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Stem Cells in Focus

Stem Cell Year-in-Review 2016

Jan 11, 2017

If we picked one word to define the past year in the stem cell field, it would have to be ‘therapy.’ While many important developments impacted the field, two that garnered significant public, political and scientific attention in 2016 were the proliferation of clinics using unproven stem cell “therapies,” and the steps forward in therapeutic modification of human oocytes (unfertilized eggs) through a process called mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT).

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A CRISPR Method For Gene Editing: A Biomedical Breakthrough From a “Germ”

Dec 14, 2016

Bacteria. What do you think of when you hear this word? “Germs,” “antibiotics,” or “bleach” may come to mind, depending on the context. What about “powerhouse of scientific discovery?” That’s a string of words, but one that accurately describes the impact this single-celled organism is having on stem cell biology and human health.

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Stem Cell Soup – The Importance of Knowing What Is In It

Oct 19, 2016

“I don’t even know what’s in the soup,” was the shocking quote from the founder of a chain of clinics highlighted in a recent Associated Press article about the increasing prevalence of clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies. The “soup” referred to the mixture of cells and fluid he extracted from a patient’s fat for re-injection into the same patient’s knees, one of many “stem cell” procedures being tried for more than 20 diseases and conditions.

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Celebrating Stem Cell Awareness Day – October 12

Oct 12, 2016

The ISSCR joins organizations and individuals around the world in celebrating the cells that are the building blocks of life: stem cells. Unlike other cell types, stem cells are unspecialized cells uniquely capable of making copies of themselves (self-renewing), differentiating into specialized cell types, and helping to maintain some tissues in the human body.

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ISSCR’s Stem Cell Guidelines: A Commitment to Patients and the Public

Oct 6, 2016

Stem cell science is advancing at a pace greater than ever before, and researchers are making significant discoveries toward medical therapies to treat diseases and injuries - many of which currently have no cure. In May 2016, the ISSCR developed guidelines to help protect the integrity of stem cell research and assure the public that it will proceed efficiently and remain responsive to public interests.

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Modeling the development and disease of the human enteric nervous system takes guts… and stem cells

May 5, 2016

Question: What part of the nervous system has over 500 million neurons - the cells that transmit electrical or chemical signals throughout the nervous system and beyond - and regulates important bodily functions? Sounds like the brain, right? What if you knew that this part of the nervous system also spans approximately 30 feet in an average adult? That’s right, it’s the enteric nervous system (ENS). Never heard of it?

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Stem Cells Need Sleep, Too

Nov 6, 2015

Sleep is important for our body. With modest sleep deprivation it can be a struggle to function at our highest level and long term sleep deprivation, or disruption, can have significant health effects. It turns out that your sleep deprivation may also impact others…....if you are donating your hematopoietic stem cells.

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The Importance of Professional Guidelines

Aug 10, 2015

Professional guidelines provide a practical and ethical framework for decision making and instill a sense of responsibility and accountability. Learn more about the ISSCR's guidelines for stem cell research and clinical translation.

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Stem Cell Research: Promise, Progress & Hype

Jul 30, 2015

Summary of a panel discussion at the recent annual meeting of the International Society of Stem Cell Research in Stockholm, featuring international experts discussing the complex issues surrounding the sale and marketing of experimental stem cell treatments.

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Modeling Human Biology and Organoids: A Big Impact from a Miniature Tissue

Jul 20, 2015

Organoids, or miniature organs, are a relatively new model system that has emerged from stem cell research and are making a big impact. These laboratory-grown, three-dimensional, mini-organs are microscopically small and are started from stem cells. Within a specialized growth environment, the stem cells, either adult or embryonic, depending on the tissue needed, are stimulated to grow and specialize into specific types of organoids. Although they are not exact replicas of the adult organ, they do replicate many aspects and thus give us a model of human development that we would not otherwise have.

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Stem Cells and the Aging Brain

Jul 6, 2015

Summary of a panel discussion on stem cells and the aging brain involving a world-leading grouping of international stem cell scientists.

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Public Symposium: Stem Cells and the Aging Brain

Jun 2, 2015

At the ISSCR public symposium in Stockholm, stem cell scientists from Germany, Sweden and the U.S. will explore during a moderated panel discussion the role of stem cells in the brain during our lives from development and through adulthood. Panelists will discuss how scientists are investigating what happens to these cells as we age, how this knowledge is being used to guide new strategies to boost brain health and to develop therapies utilizing stem cells to treat diseases of the brain.

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An Exciting Strategy for Treating Sickle Cell Disease with Stem Cells

May 28, 2015

Stem cell researchers are getting closer to a new treatment for sickle cell disease, moving promising laboratory research into human clinical trials. Millions of people worldwide suffer from this hereditary disease.

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Stimulating The Body's Stem Cells to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

May 15, 2015

What if, in this dawning era of regenerative medicine, we could help the body heal itself? Not by replacing diseased or damaged cells, as is so often the paradigm in this field, but by stimulating the stem cells already present in a given tissue to differentiate and then repair the damage. No, this isn’t science fiction, like using one of Dr. McCoy’s futuristic devices from Star Trek to heal the injured Captain Kirk. This approach is now being assessed as a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis.

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What to Consider: Human Genome Germline Modification

Apr 30, 2015

In the past few days, you may have heard about new research describing the editing of the DNA sequence in human embryos. This new research raises critical scientific, social, legal and ethical questions to be addressed by all of us.

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Introducing A Closer Look at Stem Cells

Apr 17, 2015

Today, we welcome you to the blog’s new home, the expanded Closer Look at Stem Cells website (www.closerlookatstemcells.org). The website is a perfect complement to the “Stem Cells in Focus” blog, housing informational pages on basic stem cell biology, the process by which science becomes medicine, clinical trials and the use of stem cells in understanding and potentially treating specific health conditions.

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Malaria-in-a-Dish Paves the Way for Better Treatments

Feb 6, 2015

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have discovered a new way to model malaria using stem cells in a petri dish, which will allow them to test potential antimalarial drugs and vaccines.

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Q&A: Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine and Veterans

Nov 6, 2014

This week, nations around the world recognize Remembrance Day and Veterans Day. The ISSCR is proud of the role stem cell research is playing in advancing the field of regenerative medicine, which stands to benefit wounded servicemen and women. Dr. Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, North Carolina, U.S.A., leads the consortium of researchers that make up the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM). We spoke with him about the organization, which is working to develop advanced treatment options.

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October 8 is Stem Cell Awareness Day

Sep 15, 2014

The ISSCR celebrates Stem Cell Awareness Day on October 8 with a Stem Cells in Focus webcast entitled “The Science of Regenerative Medicine,” presented by PhD candidate Ben Paylor of the Canadian Stem Cell Network. The webinar will explore the basics of stem cell biology and will include three StemCellShorts*, voiced by stem cell experts Drs. Jim Till, Janet Rossant and Mick Bhatia, as well as a question and answer period.

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Connecting Genetics and Heart Disease

Aug 5, 2014

Scientists and clinicians have long suspected and recently confirmed that a person’s genetic makeup contributes to the likelihood of their having a heart attack. However, there has remained a gap between our knowledge of genetic indicators and medicine; a gap that Dr. Chad Cowan, of Harvard University, is trying to bridge with stem cell research.

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Hematopoietic Stem Cells: a New Transplant Paradigm for Multiple Sclerosis?

Jun 6, 2014

For years now, bone marrow transplants have been used to treat patients with leukemia and other blood disorders. The hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells present in bone marrow can restore a patient’s blood system after it has been devastated by chemotherapy or radiation. This same approach is now being tested in clinical trials for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases in the hope that providing brand new blood cells will reset the immune system to a healthy state.

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Stem Cells May Be Key to Curing Retinal Disease

May 9, 2014

A team of UK stem cell scientists, led by Dr. Robin Ali from UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London, has developed a new strategy for repairing the retina by transplanting photoreceptor cells generated in the laboratory from embryonic stem cells. There is a good precedent for using stem cell therapy to repair eye damage. Transplanting corneal stem cells to repair chemical burns of the cornea has been very successful in restoring vision. But the retina – a multi-layered neural network – is a much more complicated structure, so repairing it poses greater challenges.

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Ramping up Discovery with Kidney Organoids

Apr 4, 2014

Although they conjure up images of science fiction, organoids are actually the quirky new name for mini, lab-grown models of human organs. Scientists are using pluripotent stem cells – the master cells that make any cell in the body – to create small buds of brain, thymus, liver, intestine, eye or kidney tissue that replicate some of the functions we find in these organs.

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Making Sense of Disease – In a Dish

Mar 6, 2014

Stem cell research is revolutionizing the way scientists study human disease in many ways. One of the most fascinating, is through the creation of human “diseases in a dish,” which are giving scientists a better way to study disease biology and test new drugs. Read how Dr. Kevin Eggan from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute is using this technology to better understand diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and schizophrenia.

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Exploring Endogenous Heart Repair and Regeneration

Feb 13, 2014

For the millions of people who suffer from heart attacks every year, the aftereffects are literally scarring. When the heart muscle dies from lack of blood, it is replaced by scar tissue, since the heart has very little regenerative capacity. This grim prospect is what stem cell scientists, like Dr. Deepak Srivastava, Director of Cardiovascular Disease and the Stem Cell Center at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, are hoping to change.

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