brain

Probing Nature pub’s puzzling claim of brain cells globetrotting into prostate tumors

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A new Nature paper makes the striking claim that neural precursor cells of the brain migrate all the way to prostate tumors. Furthermore, the team led by Claire Magnon claims that these long-distance cellular travelers from the brain not only take up residence in the prostate but also strongly drive progression of the prostate cancer …

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

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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 …

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Aging: can we grow new brain cells as adults?

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Can we humans grow healthy new brain cells as adults and during later aging? The answer to this question is a big deal because it could have major impact on aging. Those hoped-for new brain cells could keep our brains functionally younger. Who doesn’t want to slow down the aging of their brain, right? Slowing …

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Healthy skepticism needed on claim of stem cell-derived human fetal brain

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One of the biggest claims related to stem cells and in particular to induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSC or IPS cells) of 2015 came just yesterday about growing a human fetal brain. A press release from Ohio State University reports that two of its researchers had grown a nearly full-formed human fetal brain. My initial reaction …

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Multi-Billion Dollar NIH Brain Initiative A Stroke of Genius or Madness?

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Is the new multi-billion dollar NIH Brain Initiative a stroke of madness or genius? For some non-brain researchers scrambling for funding from NIH, it could well just give them a stroke. At the same time as the NIH and Obama are asking for $4.5 billion (yes, with a b) for the new “big science” Brain …

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If I only had a brain: brain organoids from pluripotent stem cells

In a first for the field, scientists have used human pluripotent stem cells to grow miniature brain-like structures (brain organoids) in a dish in a lab (see beautiful image of one of these “mini-brains” at left from the paper). This exciting, pioneering feat, accomplished by a team from the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna …

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Dedifferentiation of neurons & astrocytes into glioma forming cells

A team from the Salk Institute in La Jolla led by Inder Verma has reported dedifferentiation in a paper in Science some important findings that I believe make their paper in the top 10 as a candidate for paper of the year. The paper, entitled “Dedifferentiation of Neurons and Astrocytes by Oncogenes Can Induce Gliomas …

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Stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis: where do things stand?

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Where do things stand on the potential of stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS)? MS is an often devastating autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own nervous system. More info can be found at the National MS website here. MS is a very serious health problem globally as about 400,000 people …

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Stem cells on the brain: why can’t the brain just fix itself?

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Why doesn’t the brain fix itself using stem cells the way other organs do? Earlier this week I was lecturing to students here at UC Davis on stem cells. One of the points I raised was that most if not all of our organs have a compliment of stem cells that are there to maintain …

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Why is the human brain super-sized?

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Why do people have such a big brain compared to other animals? Vertebrate embryonic development is a highly conserved process, particularly in the earliest phases. (note: you may find this September 2020 post on regulation of bee brain size to be interesting.) A wide variety of vertebrate animals including humans start out with embryonic body plans …

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