Cell Articles
“Researchers Design Patches of Cells to [[#|Repair]] Damaged Hearts”
Scientific American, August 24, 2009
Scientists have discovered a new use for the versatile stem cells. They are utilizing stem cell injections to expedite the recovery of the cardiac muscle post-[[#|heart attack]]. Other scientists are creating “patches” to repair areas of damaged cardiac cells. After a heart attack, cardiac muscle is weakened because the muscle has been deprived of oxygen. Israeli scientists tested out their cardiac patch in rats. They transplanted cultured heart cells grown in a lab onto the omentum, a fatty stomach tissue, in rats. This may seem strange, but it actually benefits the performance of the patch once it is transferred to the heart.
After a week in the stomach of the rat, the patch developed a large amount of blood vessels, more vessels than patches attached to the rat’s hearts right away. The patch that was incubated in the stomach first also proved to integrate more seamlessly with its surrounding cardiac cells when transferred to the heart. Some scientists at the University of Arizona are unsure of how safe this procedure would be in humans, and contemplate the risks of allowing a cardiac patch to grow inside another body part; they wish to transplant it directly onto the heart. A “biodegradable scaffold” has been formulated for the patch to grow on until it is able to fully integrate into the surrounding cardiac tissue. The patch designed at the University of Arizona disintegrates after around three weeks, leaving behind a thicker heart wall with new tissue and improved blood flow. The biodegradable scaffold on which the patch is grown is now in the first phase of [[#|clinical trials]] to test if it can be used on humans.

"Planarian Worms Defy Aging"

Researchers have discovered that certain types of planarian worms may be able to live indefinitely. These worms can reproduce both sexually and asexually, and both types appear to have the ability to regenerate tissues and organs over and over. The cells that divide in this process are stem cells. In the process of division, copies of genetic information in the form of DNA coiled into chromosomes are passed on to offspring. At the end of these chromosomes are caps called telomeres, which get shorter every time the cell divides. An enzyme called telomerase can maintain telomere activity. In humans, telomerase is only active during early development. Recent research has shown that in planarian worms, telomerase is active when asexually reproducing worms regenerate. The enzyme did not appear to be as active in sexually reproducing worms. This information indicates that there may be some worms that can prevent their telomeres from shortening, and therefore, theoretically, become immortal. This [[#|study]] has contributed to our knowledge of aging and research in the area of human longevity.

"A Virus That Helps Charge Your Cellphone"


Scientists at the Energy's Department Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory stated they have created a virus that produces electricity. The viruses could later be used in devices that convert motion produced from the body into forms of energy. This method is called piezoelectric, and is often used in generating energy for [[#|cars]] and different manufacturing processes. The piezoelectric method can primarily be viewed in the use the cigarette lighters, and grills, which rely on the process. By pushing a button, an electrical current is sent to ignite the gas. The M13 virus is the main virus in use, and as it is harmless to humans, it is an ideal candidate. It is not yet fully involved in the use of cellphones, but future developments and current research are producing promising results. By inserting a small film of the M13 virus in use, and is about the size of a small postage stamp. The modified M13 is in small quantities, but has good results. Once the postage sized film is placed in between two pieces of gold plated electrodes, pressure was gently applied, and enough energy is then generated to briefly provide the power to light up an LED display screen. The equivalence in terms of energy used already is approximately one fourth of the voltage of a triple-A battery. Though the prospects are very promising, head scientists at the Energy’s Department have said that this product is not even close to be on the market, as it is still in very early stages of research. The chief investigator of the project, a man named Dr. Seung-Wuk Lee, has estimated that if the project remains on track and successful, then a similar model will be on the market in a time span anywhere five to ten years from now. The upper limit of the virus has yet to be tested, and after the maximum power output is found, research could continue onto constructing new devices as well.

... not one of the articles im gonna talk about but this is kinda funny. "How Cell Biologists Have Fun:The First Ever World Cell Race"


Summary: This article describes how a silicone plaster can not only protect a wound from infection, but it can also speed up healing of the wound. Prof. Dimos Poulikakous and his team created this in the Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technologies (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland.This silicone is called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). This allows the fibroblasts, which aid in healing the wound, to migrate to the center more quickly, decreasing the time it takes to heal. The PDMS doesn't stick to the wound, allowing for easy removal without causing any damage. The team that made this used a soft lithography technique to embed grooves into the plastic. The grooves are so small that the naked eye cant see them. The grooves are even smaller than the fibroblasts. The grooves guide a pathway for the fibroblasts allowing them to join more quickly, and over the entire wound for better healing. So far this is all under the laboratory phase. It has healed single layered tissue cultures, and results have been very promising.


The article describes the possibility of using bovine stem cells to produce a hamburger. In 2009, scientists were able to grow in vitro pork in the lab. Mark Post, a physiologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, hopes to produce the first laboratory-grown hamburger by the fall. Experimental chef Heston Blumenthal will be preparing the hamburger, which will be served to a celebrity taster.
Using cow stem cells grown in a petri dish, the researchers have created small strips of muscle from stem cells. The muscle cells, after being minced into tiny pieces, will be mixed with blood and artificially grown fat to make a piece of meat the size of a golf ball. $330,000 has already gone into this project.
Post said he doesn't yet know what the burger would taste like, because the samples that have been grown so far are too small. The pinkish-yellowish strips of muscle cells are only about an inch by a half-inch and 1 millimeter thing. They're semi-transparent. Post feels confident that his team can perfect the process by October, but they won’t be ready for sale for another ten years.
Post is willing to send the second hamburger for "an extreme reduction in price," estimating that piece of meat should cost only $263,000.
The majority of people polled by MSNBC voted that they would not eat the burger, voting that “It’s just too weird.” However, there are some benefits. It could lessen the environmental impact of the meat industry and the suffering of animals. An Oxford University study concluded "in vitro" or "cultured" meat would generate 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, use 45% less energy, reduce land use by 99% and cut water use by 96%, compared to conventional meat.

"Skin Cells Reprogrammed Into Brain Cells"


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Summary: At the Gladstone Institutes scientists transformed skin cells into cells that develop into their own neural network of brain cells using only a single genetic factor. The gene called Sox2 was transferred into both mouse and human skin cells. After a few days, these cells developed into early-stage brain stem cells. They self replicated and soon began to mature into neurons that were capable of transmitting electrical signals. In just a month, these neurons had formed a neural network. This advance is huge. Previously, a scientist Dr.Yamanaka was able to use four genetic factors to turn an adult human cell into cells that act like embryonic stem cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These cells are useful because they can become almost any cell type in the human body. However, these iPS cells often develop into a tumor if they malfunction. By using just one genetic factor, the pluripotent stage is avoided and the risk of a tumor developing is drastically reduced. These cells may lead to better models for testing drugs that are being used to treat diseases of the brain and can predict accurate effects of the drug on a human brain.

Reaction: It is really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that we have now found a way to literally transform one type of cell into a different type of cell. It seems like science fiction to me. Advances such as this will be extremely useful in the search for cures for diseases. Imagine if these reprogrammed cells will allow scientists to find a cure for Alzheimers.

2012 Nobel Prize Winners!!