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Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 — Progress in stem cell research

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Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Drs. John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” What does it mean to be pluripotent and why is it so important? Continue reading –>

Dr. John B. Gurdon (left) and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka (right)

 

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Controversy over a bacterium that grows in arsenic — an update

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Astrobiology Press Conference (201012020001HQ)

Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon at Astrobiology Press Conference

The upheaval in the scientific community revolving around the allegedly arsenic-exploiting bacterium has neared its end.

The turmoil started at the end of year 2010 when Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow, reported that her team has isolated a strain of bacterium termed GFAJ-1 which not only can grow in arsenic-rich medium but also incorporates arsenic into its essential biomolecules, including DNA and proteins. (For more recap, check out my older post.) Arsenic is very similar to phosphorus. However, unlike phosphorus which is essential to living creatures, arsenic is poisonous. Continue reading –>

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Repairing the injured heart — Regenerative medicine takes another step forward

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Think heart failure is incurable? Think again. Regenerative medicine could restore an injured heart – just by an injection to the heart.

Regenerative medicine is an increasingly popular field in the health sciences. Whereas traditional regenerative medicine looked at embryonic stem cells, more and more researchers are investigating adult pluripotent stem cells (stem cells deriving from adult cells). One of the advantages of using adult pluripotent stem cells is that complications arising from rejection after transplant can be avoided if a person’s own cells are used. Furthermore, some researchers are interested in reprogramming adult cells directly into another cell type without the cells having to go through stem cell stage; this prevents the unwanted possibility of stem cells forming into tumors at the site of transplant. Continue reading –>

Embryonic stem cells

 

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