Monday, 24 March 2008

Weekly BioNews 17 - 24 Mar 2008

- Cloned cells treat Parkinson's in mice

By Maggie Fox, Healthand Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Mar. 23, 2008 (Reuters) — Researchers who used cloned embryonic stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease in mice said on Sunday they worked better than other cells.

The researchers were trying to prove that it is possible to make embryonic stem cells using cloning technology and use them to provide a tailor-made treatment.

But they found that a mouse's own cloned stem cells were far less disruptive to its body than cloned cells taken from other mice.

"It demonstrated what we suspected all along -- that genetically matched tissue works better," said Viviane Tabar of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, who worked on the study.

"When you give the other type of tissue, non-autologous tissue, you get more inflammation than we anticipated. This is in a lab animal where we expect it to be tolerant. Normally when you do this in mice, you don't give matched cells," Tabar added in a telephone interview.

The mice given non-matched brain cells did more poorly than the mice given cells from their own clones, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Stem cells are the master cells of the body and embryonic stem cells are the ultimate master cells, giving rise to all the other cells and tissue. Cloning researchers hope one day to be able to take a little piece of skin and grow embryonic stem cells from it for personal, tailor-made medical treatments

- Deadly Genetic Disease Prevented Before Birth In Zebrafish

ScienceDaily (Mar. 21, 2008)

By injecting a customized "genetic patch" into early stage fish embryos, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis were able to correct a genetic mutation so the embryos developed normally.

The research could lead to the prevention of up to one-fifth of birth defects in humans caused by genetic mutations, according to the authors.

Erik C. Madsen, first author and an M.D./Ph.D. student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University School of Medicine, made the groundbreaking discovery using a zebrafish model of Menkes disease, a rare, inherited disorder of copper metabolism caused by a mutation in the human version of the ATP7A gene. Zebrafish are vertebrates that develop similarly to humans, and their transparency allows researchers to observe embryonic development.

- Scientists successfully awaken sleeping stem cells

March 18, 2008 09:16 PM

Scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute have discovered what chemical in the eye triggers the dormant capacity of certain non-neuronal cells to transform into progenitor cells, a stem-like cell that can generate new retinal cells. The discovery, published in the March issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS), offers new hope to victims of diseases that harm the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

“This study is very significant. It means it might be possible to turn on the eye’s own resources to regenerate damaged retinas, without the need for transplanting outside retinal tissue or stem cells,” says Dr. Dong Feng Chen, associate scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School, and the principal investigator of the study. “If our next steps work in animal disease models, we believe that clinical testing could happen fairly quickly.”

Scientists have long been aware of Müller cells (which exist in great abundance in the eye) and have generally assumed that they were responsible for keeping retinal tissue protected and clear of debris. In recent years, however, researchers have reported that these cells sometimes exhibit progenitor cell behavior and re-enter the cell cycle (dividing and differentiating into other type of cells). Progenitor cells are similar to stem cells but are more mature and are more limited in the number of cells types they can become.

- British government confident about embryo bill

Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:15pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government is confident it can push through legislation allowing human-animal embryo research, as calls for a free vote on the sensitive bill grew, Health Secretary Alan Johnson told Sky News on Sunday.

A number of leading Roman Catholic clergymen, including cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, want British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to give MPs a free vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, as does former Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers.

"I'm convinced the House of Commons will carry this bill," Johnson told Sky News.

"There will not be a cabinet split, but there will be an accommodation for those who have a particular sensitivity around this, including those whose sensitivity relates to the faith."

There are three Catholics in Brown's cabinet -- Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Defence Secretary Des Browne -- with one of them reportedly ready to resign over the proposed law.

"On matters like this I want to reach my own decision and not be instructed how to vote," Byers told the Observer.

No comments:

Opinions – Suggestions - Remarks