Cells Weekly – March 27, 2016

by Alexey Bersenev on March 28, 2016 · 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. Cells Weekly is posted every Sunday night!


1. Synthetic cell with minimal genome
The study, released this week in Science, could have a huge impact on the future of synthetic biology. Craig Venter and his team created from scratch a new species of microorganism with minimal genome – syn3.0. This bacterial cell has only 473 synthetic genes. Function 149 of these genes remains unknown. There was a massive coverage of this study in the media. I’ve picked some articles here:
Synthetic microbe lives with fewer than 500 genes (Science news)
Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genome 3.0 Evokes Classic Experiments (DNA Science Blog)
‘Minimal’ cell raises stakes in race to harness synthetic life (Nature News)
The Mysterious Thing About a Marvelous New Synthetic Cell (the Atlantic)
After 20 Year Quest, Biologists Create Synthetic Bacteria With No Extra Genes (Forbes)

2. Update on Macchiarini’s case
This week, Karolinska Institutet has dismissed tissue engineering pioneer Paolo Macchiarini. You can read more here and here. Macchiarini’s comments for Nature and for Science:

… Macchiarini told Nature: “I do not accept any of the findings of the Disciplinary Board. I have instructed lawyers and will be taking immediate steps to restore my reputation.”

Macchiarini declined to comment in detail on today’s announcement. Given his plan to fight his dismissal, “I’m sure you will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this point,” he wrote in his email to Science.

Also read the most recent post by Leonid Schneider, where he is digging into European consortium Biotrachea.

3. CAR regulatory T-cells for transplant tolerance induction
Success of CAR T-cell therapy in liquid malignancies allows to explore the same approach outside of oncology. Very recent study describes application of CAR T-regs in the model of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD):

… we describe what we believe is a new approach to generating potent alloantigen-specific Tregs, using a CAR targeting HLA-A2.
… our results demonstrate that use of CAR technology to generate potent, functional, and stable alloantigen-specific human Tregs markedly enhances their therapeutic potential in transplantation and sets the stage for using this approach for making antigen-specific Tregs for therapy of multiple diseases.

4. Negative effects of anti-aging caloric restriction
Caloric (dietary) restriction is well known anti-aging factor, which leads to increased longevity in experimental models. However, there are some negative sides of it. Researchers from Germany studied impact of dietary restriction on hematopoietic stem cells in mice. Even though, long-term diet led to improvement of aged stem cell function in general, it impaired lymphoid lineages:

The current study provides the first experimental evidence that long-term application of 30% DR, the best-studied anti-aging intervention across different species, induces beneficial and adverse effects on HSC aging and hematopoiesis/lymphopoiesis. The study shows that despite having beneficial effects on retarding decline in the repopulation capacity of HSCs during aging, DR severely impairs lymphopoiesis by impairing the differentiation of lymphoid-biased HSCs and lymphoid progenitor cell proliferation.

The study suggests that anti-aging caloric restriction could be dangerous for humans, because it could cause immunodeficiency.

5. Biopen for surgical cell printing
Australian researchers described the use of mobile bioprinting device (called Biopen) for filling chondral tissue defect:

We present a new approach which aims to translate freeform biofabrication into the surgical field, while staying true to the practical constraints of the operating theatre. Herein we describe the development of a handheld biofabrication tool, dubbed the ‘biopen’, which enables the deposition of living cells and biomaterials in a manual, direct-write fashion.

The group presented Biopen 2 years ago:

6. Future iPS cell developments in Japan
Japanese media outlet Nikkei Asian Review posted an overview of Shinya Yamanaka’s conference for Nikkei. A couple of excerpts:

His aim is to quickly establish a method to transplant nerve tissue created from iPS cells into patients. Kyoto University plans to test the treatment on Parkinson’s patients as soon as this year or next. Regenerative medicine for blood platelets and cartilage is nearing the application stage.

In pursuing research that requires government approval [for medical applications], Yamanaka will “partner with companies to raise research funds,” he said. CiRA currently receives roughly 4 billion yen ($35 million) from the government and about 500 million yen a year in donations.

7. Fresh reviews:
Genome-editing Technologies for Gene and Cell Therapy (Mol Ther)
Transplantation Tolerance Induction: Cell Therapies and Their Mechanisms (Front Immunol)
Methods for intestinal regeneration and bioengineering (World J Transplant)

8. New methods and protocols:
Comparison of human ES and iPS cells for retinal regeneration (Mol Ther Meth)
Strategies fro tumor-free transplantation of patient-derived iPS cell progeny (Stem Cells TM)
Cryopreservation of human adipose-derived MSC decreases CD49d expression (Stem Cells Int)
Defined Essential 8™ medium and vitronectin for scalable xeno-free expansion of human iPS cells in stirred microcarrier system (PLoS ONE)
Using human adipose-derived pericytes in bone fracture model (Sci Rep)
Conversion of human fibroblasts to neural stem cells with a single zincfinger transcription factor (Stem Cell Rep)
Chemically defined xeno-free cryopreservation of human adipose-derived stem cells (PLoS ONE)
Propagation of pure fetal and maternal MSC from human placenta (Sci Rep)

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