Weekend reads: reversing death of pig brain cells, brain-gut stem cell link, plant stem cells, & more

pig brain fighting death
Untreated pig brain at left shows lots of death and few neurons (green) hours after death, but the image on the right shows a brain connected to a system called BrainEx that Yale researchers report kept more neurons alive. Source. Stefano G. Daniele and Zvonimir Vrselja, Sestan Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine
pig brain fighting death
Untreated pig brain at left shows lots of death and few neurons (green) hours after death, but the image on the right shows a brain connected to a system called BrainEx that Yale researchers report kept more neurons alive. Source.
Stefano G. Daniele and Zvonimir Vrselja, Sestan Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine

It’s been a cool week for stem cell and other associated kinds of research. In this post I have a series of links to a variety of interesting developments and papers.

Gene therapy cures bubble boy infants. William Wan over at the WaPo on this good news. Nope, this wasn’t done with CRISPR, but rather with a viral transgene approach (not TALENs as I mistakenly had originally written here).

“The pigs were dead. But four hours later, scientists restored cellular functions in their brains”This reminds me of a post I did on a biotech claiming oddly to reverse death of human brain cells at least in part with a laser. In this new report, Yale researchers have a system called BrainEx that purportedly keeps brain cells alive for hours. Note in the image at left that the untreated brain is 8 hours post-death while the image of treated brain is only four hours after death. Still, it seems like a striking difference, but I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical about how much meaning this report really has. We’ll see.

“Researchers discover crucial link between brain and gut stem cells”. The gut is very tied to overall health in many ways and was also recently found to be a novel reservoir of hematopoietic stem cells in people too.

“To protect stem cells, plants have diverse genetic backup plans.” Yes, plants have stem cells and they aren’t just made by nature to go into sketchy anti-aging “cremes”.

Kind of a first-person piece in the NYT, “The Lifesaving Power in Stem Cells” on cord blood by Susan Gubar. It has this in your face kind of subtitle in reference to stem cell clinics, “Liars and thieves should not be allowed to detract from legitimate scientific research that has made umbilical cord blood mystic in its regenerative powers.”

2 Comments

  1. Might have been wishful thinking, but the gene therapy that cured the bubble boys employed neither of the gene editing tools (CRISPR/TALEN; at least I could not find any mentioning of them in the NEJM paper) and instead relied on an improved retroviral transduction system which leads to random genome insertions; or so it seems, because still a bit worrying is the prevalence of insertion sites in certain cancer-related genes (Figs. S10 and S11). So hopefully, in the long term of these kids` life, this will not cause a problem.

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