Some muscle cells are multi-talented.
American Society for Cell Biology Meeting, Washington, December 2001
Stem cells’ fates are a multiple choice.
A single stem cell from adult mouse muscle can form enough blood cells to save another animal’s life - and still switch back to making brawn, researchers announced at the Washington meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology this week.
"It shows that cells can go in many different directions given the right environment," says stem-cell researcher Helen Blau of Stanford University in California. The traditional view - that stem cells progressively and permanently lose their initial ability to produce many cell types - is changing, she argues.
Rather than a one-way road of cell destiny, "It looks like a San Francisco highway", says Blau. Stem cells can go off at one exit to make nerve cells and rejoin to make liver cells when the need arises.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells may still have properties that adult stem cells lack, cautions Ron McKay of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Adult nerve stem cells are more likely to stop producing new nerve cells than are ES cells, he says, arguing for continued experimentation with the controversial human cells.
"I’ll say it because we’re in Washington: they [ES cells] grow without changing their developmental potential," he says.
"We weren’t looking for stem cells," explains Huard. He and his team were trying to find muscle cells that could restore the missing protein dystrophin in patients suffering from the wasting muscle disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). They wanted cells that were tough enough to survive transplantation into a patient.
They injected their selected cell group, labelled so that they could be tracked, into mice with a form of DMD. But the cells rarely turned up in muscle. Instead, Huard found them in heart, liver, lung, spleen - but mainly bone marrow. "I got sidetracked," he says.
Huard is now trying to coax his stem cells back to muscle by searching for the molecules that lure them there. Working muscle cells would bump up dystrophin levels. "It will be very exciting," he predicts.
To finally identify the elusive muscle stem cell, researchers must start from a single cell, warns Blau: even Huard’s group of purified cells could contain outliers with unknown effects. Such a technique identified an ’ultimate’ stem cell from bone marrow earlier this year2.
| © Nature News Service
Numbers count in the genetics of moles and melanomas
16.08.2019 | University of Queensland
Working out why plants get sick
16.08.2019 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.
Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...
Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.
Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...
Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.
The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...
An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.
The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
16.08.2019 | Life Sciences
16.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2019 | Medical Engineering