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April 2013
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Cloning Breakthrough Highlights An Alternative Source For Stem Cells

The recent breakthrough in human cloning announced by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University brings to light an alternative source of pluripotent stem cells that may now get more attention.

Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT), like Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (cloning), utilizes the nucleus of a somatic cell, to swap into that of a human egg in order ultimately to generate patient specific pluripotent stem cells.

But in the ANT process, scientists alter the nuclear make-up of the cell or the egg prior to transfer, ensuring that no viable human embryo is possible even in principle from the get-go.

The resulting organism can generate robust pluripotent stem cells, like embryonic stem cells, but without the ethical implications that accompany the creation and destruction of human embryos involved in the SCNT process.

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Engineered stem cell advance points toward treatment for ALS

by David Tenenbaum

MADISON, Wis. — Transplantation of human stem cells in an experiment conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison improved survival and muscle function in rats used to model ALS, a nerve disease that destroys nerve control of muscles, causing death by respiratory failure.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is sometimes called “Lou Gehrig’s disease." According to the ALS Association, the condition strikes about 5,600 Americans each year. Only about half of patients are alive three years after diagnosis.

In work recently completed at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, Masatoshi Suzuki, an assistant professor of comparative biosciences, and his colleagues used adult stem cells from human bone marrow and genetically engineered the cells to produce compounds called growth factors that can support damaged nerve cells.

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The formula for turning cement into metal

BY TONA KUNZ

LEMONT, Ill. – In a move that would make the Alchemists of King Arthur’s time green with envy, scientists have unraveled the formula for turning liquid cement into liquid metal. This makes cement a semi-conductor and opens up its use in the profitable consumer electronics marketplace for thin films, protective coatings, and computer chips.

“This new material has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment,” said Chris Benmore, a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory who worked with a team of scientists from Japan, Finland and Germany to take the “magic” out of the cement-to-metal transformation. Benmore and Shinji Kohara from Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8 led the research effort.

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