Cells Weekly – December 15, 2013

by Alexey Bersenev on December 15, 2013 · 0 comments

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Cells Weekly is a digest of the most interesting news and events in stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Read Cells Weekly every Sunday night!

1. Speeding up reprogramming efficiency
Thomas Graf’s group from Centre for Genomic Regulation (Spain) has published very interesting study today, which unveil the mechanism for rapid reprogramming of B-cells:

Here we find that in mouse primary B cells transient C/EBPα expression followed by OSKM activation induces a 100-fold increase in iPS cell reprogramming efficiency, involving 95% of the population. During this conversion, pluripotency and epithelial–mesenchymal transition genes become markedly upregulated, and 60% of the cells express Oct4 within 2 days.

So far only in mice and only in B-cells. But if this mechanism is universal, it opens a big opportunities in rapid (few days) generation of iPS cells.

2. Direct reprogramming of pancreatic cells
Stanford’s researchers figured out the way to convert pancreatic exocrine ductal cells into insulin-producing beta-cells:

FACS-sorted adult human ductal cells clonally expanded as spheres in culture, while retaining ductal characteristics. Expression of the cardinal islet developmental regulators Neurog3, MafA, Pdx1 and Pax6 converted exocrine duct cells into endocrine progeny with hallmark β-cell properties, including the ability to synthesize, process and store insulin, and secrete it in response to glucose or other depolarizing stimuli.

I wonder if simple biopsy will allow to grow enough cells, convert them into beta-cells and use for cell replacement therapy in diabetes.

3. Stem Cell Blog of 2013
Paul Knoepfler announced the Stem Cell Blog of 2013 – the Signals. Our congratulations to the Signals team for this recognition! This blog is full of great content and updated very frequently. If you’re not subscribed to Signals yet, get it done now!

4. Decellularization of whole brain
Paolo Macchiarini’s team published a protocol for rat brain decellularization:
We first demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed decellularization protocol and the cytocompatibility of the resulting brain matrix.
New Scientists picked up this study and posted a piece on “growing a brain”:

It might also be possible one day to use transplants of bioengineered tissue to replace parts of the brain damaged, for example, by a gunshot, Macchiarini says, and to provide a matrix for native cells to grow into.
“We expect that a patient’s central nervous system cells could migrate into the implanted scaffold, adhere to it, grow and contribute to neural tissue regeneration,” he says.

The authors explored neural differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, induced by decellularized brain matrix. It seem to me that neural stem cells, derived from pluripotent stem cells, fetal or adult brains, would be more appropriate cellular material.

5. The most popular stem cell papers in social media
Almetric measures “scientific article popularity” by different unconventional means with focus on social media. This week, Almetric posted 2013 Top 100 most popular scientific papers, measured by mentions in social and professional media.
Two stem cell papers made into this list:
1. #18 Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly. See Almetric details.
2. #29 Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. Sell Almetric details.

6. Generation of mini-kidney from iPS cells
Japanese researchers are absolute champions in creating complex organ-like structures (organoids) in vitro from pluripotent stem cells. This year they made liver organoids and now we have a kidney:

These progenitors reconstitute the 3D structures of the kidney in vitro, including glomeruli with podocytes and renal tubules with proximal and distal regions and clear lumina. Furthermore, the glomeruli are efficiently vascularized upon transplantation.

This is an impact of 3D culture revolution!

7. Plans for the first iPS cell-based trial in US
We have written about unique project Summit4StemCell – the patient do fundraising for iPS cell-based trial to treat Parkinson’s disease. The recent media coverage gives an update on current status of the project:

A study in rats began in early December; results are expected by April. The animal study is meant to assess safety, although researchers will also look for signs of effectiveness.
In January, scientists will visit the FDA to lay the groundwork for a formal application, said Scripps Clinic neurologist Melissa Houser, who treats all eight patients.
Success in the animal study will likely result in a go-ahead, Houser said. If the animal trial fails, “it’s back to the drawing board.”
FDA approval could come in the fall, Houser said.

About $1M was collected so far. It’s good enough to conduct animal studies, but at least $5M will required for safety phase of clinical trial.

8. The culture of tissue culture
BitesizeBio blog posted Seven Things That Really Annoy Me About Tissue Culture. Highly recommended for every cell culture researcher.

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