Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed advanced CRISPR gene editing technology to modify an entire gene network in one shot. This is a significant step forward in correcting genetic disorders, as many genetic abnormalities and mutations that lead to palpable symptoms are controlled by several genes in various locations on the genome. The advance resulted from the use of a CRISPR enzyme called Cas12a, as opposed to Cas9, which is currently used for all gene editing done with the CRISP technology.
A research team at the Netherlands’ Utrecht University, in collaboration with the Swiss EMPA Research Institute, have developed a new 3D bio-printer that significantly decreases printing times, without harming or damaging the cells being printed. Conventional bioprinting takes hours, and even days for some complex structures, which creates the problem of maintaining the live cells in the structure that is printed over a prolonged period. The technique involves using a laser beam aimed at a printer that is depositing a light-sensitive hydrogel that contains stem cells. The laser can precisely target a structure within the gel and solidify it within seconds, without affecting the contained stem cells.
Topics: 3D printed organs
Researchers at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are utilizing stem cells and nano-electronics to study cell differentiation and disease models outside the body. The researchers are utilizing the latest advances in organ 3D printing and combining these organs with tiny sensors in culture in order to better understand human cells and tissues and gain invaluable insight, without having to worry about finding patients with specific, rare disorders. The researchers found a way to create a network of interconnected sensors and seed this structure with stem cells to have an organ develop around the sensors and be constantly monitored and observed from the cellular level. This is something that cannot be done with actual human organs, and full-sized sensors are often too large to fit into strategic places in organ tissues.
Topics: stem cell organs
Researchers at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School have discovered a new class of dental stem cells that could help regenerate teeth from within. The researchers studied rodents, who have constantly growing incisors and discovered a new class of mesenchymal stem cells, which use a genetic marker to communicate an injury and stimulate regeneration of the tooth. The gene in question was identified as Dlk1 and could offer insight into manipulating human dental pulp stem cells to regenerate teeth affected by decay and physical injury.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are combining stem cells and collagen to create organized printed structures that could be assembled into full-sized hearts. The breakthrough here involves the ability to keep the collagen in the desired shape throughout the printing process, since it initially deposits as a liquid. The researchers used a new hydrogel to temporarily support the deposited collagen, and then easily removed the gel by heating the structure to room temperature. The researchers also used 3D imaging to create valves, ventricles and blood vessels, seeding them with stem cells to then be assembled into full-sized hearts.
“Clean meat” is getting closer to consumers’ tables. Several clean meat companies are perfecting their culturing and differentiation protocols to obtain chicken meat from the stem cells of a live chicken in just two weeks. This is significantly shorter than the time required to grow a chicken in typical livestock farming. Additionally, the process doesn’t involve slaughtering animals, thereby eliminating ethical concerns many people have regarding eating meat. By eliminating the need to grow livestock on large-scale farms, clean meat companies will significantly mitigate the environmental impact of the livestock industry and alleviate food shortages.
Researchers at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University have developed a methodology to create mini liver organoids to test how therapies will affect patients in vivo. Since susceptibility to liver disease varies greatly based on the individual, the researchers are hoping to better tailor treatments by creating a mini liver from patients’ own stem cells in order to test a variety of treatments to assess those best suited for each individual patient. This stem cell advance will enable researchers to ’personalize’ treatments to the individual, while also enabling them to study and better understand rare liver diseases.
Topics: stem cell treatment
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are using autologous (the patients’ own) stem cells to treat a rare congenital heart defect. For infants born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the first few months of life are a complicated battle that involves several reconstructive surgeries that repair the underdeveloped left portion of the heart and help the right side maintain the increased load. The infants are participating in a Phase I clinical trial after being diagnosed with the syndrome before birth. At birth, the researchers obtained the patients’ cord blood stem cells and cryopreserved them until the second reconstructive operation of the heart, which typically follows a few months after birth. The researchers injected the patients’ stem cells into the affected site of the heart to support and strengthen the weakened cardiac muscle in the area.
Topics: banking stem cells
The Alzheimer’s Association has granted 3$ million to Longeveron, a biotechnology company focused on treating age-related diseases, to fund their Phase I clinical trial, which utilizes mesenchymal stem cells to treat the chronic inflammation that has been associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Mesenchymal stem cells, known for their immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, are ideal candidates to treat areas of inflammation, as other studies have already successfully shown their efficacy in regulating this condition.
Topics: treating Alzheimer's
Doctors at the Andrews Institute in Florida are utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to repair a meniscus tear with the aim of returning the patient to his normal levels of physical activity. Typically, surgery is often the most viable option with this type of injury, but it has several downsides, including a longer recovery time and the possibility for more surgeries in the future. With meniscal tears, doctors often remove the meniscus entirely, which may eventually require a full knee replacement. The autologous stem cell treatment, used alone, or in conjunction with surgery, could fully repair a tear or accelerate healing after a surgery.