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Skin stem cells shuffle sugars as they age

Age shows nowhere better than on the skin. The ravages of time on skin and the epidermal stem cells that differentiate to replenish its outer layer have been hypothesized, but there has been no method to evaluate their aging at the molecular level. Now, researchers at the University of Tsukuba and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have revealed that changes in the complex sugars called glycans that coat the surface of epidermal stem cells can serve as a potential biological marker of aging.

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A simpler way to make sensory hearing cells

Scientists from the USC Stem Cell laboratories of Neil Segil and Justin Ichida are whispering the secrets of a simpler way to generate the sensory cells of the inner ear. Their approach uses direct reprogramming to produce sensory cells known as “hair cells,” due to their hair-like protrusions that sense sound waves. The study was published in the journal eLife.

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Primitive stem cells point to new bone grafts for stubborn-to-heal fractures

Although most broken bones can be mended with a firm cast and a generous measure of tender loving care, more complicated fractures require treatments like bone grafting. Researchers at Texas A&M University have now created superior bone grafts using primitive stem cells. They found that these cells help create very fertile scaffolds needed for bone to regenerate at the site of repair.

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Scientists show MRI predicts the efficacy of a stem cell therapy for brain injury

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and Loma Linda University Health have demonstrated the promise of applying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict the efficacy of using human neural stem cells to treat a brain injury — a first-ever “biomarker” for regenerative medicine that could help personalize stem cell treatments for neurological disorders and improve efficacy. The researchers expect to test the findings in a clinical trial evaluating the stem cell therapy in newborns who experience a brain injury during birth called perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HII). The study was published in Cell Reports.

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Beta cells from stem cells: Potential for cell replacement therapy

The loss of insulin-secreting beta cells by autoimmune destruction leads to type 1 diabetes. Clinical islet cell transplantation has the potential to cure diabetes, but donor pancreases are rare. In a new study, a group of researchers developed an improved pluripotent stem cell differentiation protocol to generate beta cells in vitro with superior glucose response and insulin secretion. This is a major step towards beta cell replacement therapy.

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Diabetes reversed in mice with genetically edited stem cells derived from patients

Using induced pluripotent stem cells produced from the skin of a patient with a rare, genetic form of insulin-dependent diabetes called Wolfram syndrome, researchers transformed the human stem cells into insulin-producing cells and used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to correct a genetic defect that had caused the syndrome. They then implanted the cells into lab mice and cured the unrelenting diabetes in those mice.

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