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December 2009
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February 2010

Making Old Stem Cells Act Young Again

In virtually every part of the body, stem cells stand ready to replenish mature cells lost to wounds, disease, and everyday wear and tear. But like other cells, stem cells eventually lose their normal functions as they age, leaving the body less able to repair itself.

Surprisingly, this age-related decline in stem cell potency may be somewhat reversible. A team of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers has found that in old mice, a several-week exposure to the blood of young mice causes their bone marrow stem cells to act “young” again.

Full story.

Laser fusion test results raise energy hopes

By Jason Palmer

Science and technology reporter, BBC News

A major hurdle to producing fusion energy using lasers has been swept aside, results in a new report show.

The controlled fusion of atoms - creating conditions like those in our Sun - has long been touted as a possible revolutionary energy source.

However, there have been doubts about the use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the "plasma" they create could interrupt the fusion.

An article in Science showed the plasma is far less of a problem than expected.

The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.

Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser - by a factor of 20.

Full story.

Scientists convert cells while bypassing embryonic state

By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 27, 2010

In a feat of biological alchemy, scientists at Stanford have turned the skin cells of a mouse into brain cells without ever taking the cells back to the embryonic state, raising hopes that medicine may be approaching a new era.

The work by scientists at Stanford University was described in a paper published online Wednesday in the journal Nature and builds on the 2007 discovery that human skin cells could be reprogrammed back to the embryonic state. The reprogramming of human cells was first accomplished by the labs of James Thomson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan.

"To me, this is huge progress for biomedical science," said Su-Chun Zhang, a UW stem cell researcher and professor of anatomy and neurology.

Full story.

Platypus wins contract to develop sensor

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 5, 2010

A $2.2 million contract with a U.S. Army research center could bring a Madison company one step closer to its goal of making a portable sensor that detects deadly gases and other toxins.

Platypus Technologies LLC said it has been awarded a one-year contract with Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center in Maryland, the second it has received from the center.

Full story.