FRC Blog

New Eggs for Old?

by David Prentice

April 15, 2009

Chinese scientists have published a study in Nature Cell Biology that suggests even older females retain adult stem cells that can stimulate fertility, including the production of more eggs. The evidence is in contrast to the usual dogma that women have a finite number of immature eggs, some of which mature and are ovulated, and that the number of eggs becomes depleted with age. Tilly et al. recently reviewed the evidence for and against production of new eggs after birth. Tilly’s group was one of those recently to challenge the dogma with evidence that new egg production could occur in mammals.

What the Chinese group showed is that ovaries contain stem cells that can produce more eggs, similar to the stem cells in testes that produce sperm. The group isolated these female germline stem cells (FGSCs) from newborn and adult mice and grew them in culture. When female mice that had been sterilized were injected with the stem cells, fertility was restored including birth of healthy offspring. The injected FGSCs had been labeled with a fluorescent gene so that they could be tracked and some, though not all, of the offspring contained the fluorescent gene.

The new evidence doesn’t prove that these stem cells actually function in the normal ovary. They may age and that’s why the ovary runs out of eggs and menopause occurs. They may stimulate egg formation by secreting factors that affect other cells to maintain eggs rather than forming eggs themselves. More studies will be needed to see what is their normal function. But if similar cells could be found in humans, it might lead to treatments that extend or rejuvenate fertility. It could also pose a concern if those who want to do cloning try to use the cells to create large numbers of eggs for experiments.

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Healing Bones Using In-the-Body Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

April 15, 2009

Patients confined to wheelchairs have been able to walk or live independently again because their broken bones finally healed, thanks to a drug that stimulates their adult stem cells. Preliminary results presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting found 93% of those with an unhealed bone fracture had significant healing and pain control after treatment for only 8 to 12 weeks. Half of the 145 patients studied had non-healing fractures for 6 months or longer. The drug, teriparatide (Forteo), was approved by the FDA in 2002 for treatment of osteoporosis. A team led by Dr. J. Edward Puzas at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that this drug can also boost the body’s bone adult stem cell production to the point that adults’ bones appear to heal at a rate typically seen for young kids.

Australian researchers reported similar success in 2008 at treating non-healing fractures, using the patient’s adult stem cells. The U.S. team’s results are the initial observations from a clinical trial led by Dr. Puzas. Out of an estimated 6 million fractures in the U.S. each year, approximately 5% show slow or incomplete healing, and a large portion of non-healing fractures occur in older adults. Discovery of this in-the-body adult stem cell therapy that can jumpstart the body’s natural bone healing process will be a boon to many patients.

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Talk to the Arm

by David Prentice

April 15, 2009

Third-Ear-on-arm2.jpgAustralian performance artist Stelios Arcadiou, known as Stelarc, has a third ear implanted on his arm. The ear was grown in the lab using human cartilage and cells, and then surgically implanted. Next he’d like to implant receivers and transmitters so others can listen in over the internet to what the ear hears. Some have criticized the extra ear as not clinically necessary and potentially offensive to those who have lost an ear in an accident. Supposedly he wouldn’t hear the criticisms if he wore a long-sleeved shirt…

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Al Gore Supports Ethical iPS Cells Over Embryonic

by David Prentice

April 15, 2009

Al Gore has thrown his considerable weight (and his support, too) behind ethically-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells.) Gore is part of a $20 million venture capital investment to develop iPS cells for drug development and basic research. The funding will support collaboration between iZumi Bio, Inc., and Kyoto University’s Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, who was the first in 2006 to develop the iPS cell reprogramming technique; the technique was named “Breakthrough of the Year” by Science for 2008. While iPS cells are virtually identical in characteristics to embryonic stem cells, they are made without the use of embryos, eggs, or cloning. Gore’s support for iPS cells is a welcome counterweight of priority for real stem cell science against the over-exaggerated hype for embryonic stem cells and cloning.

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More Diabetic Patients Treated with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

April 14, 2009

Another success for adult stem cells, again treating Type I (juvenile) diabetes patients. As reported in a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 20 of 23 patients became insulin-independent after treatment with their own bone marrow adult stem cells. This report is a follow-up to the previous report by Voltarelli & Burt in 2007, and includes new patients as well as a longer period to follow the patients. Some of the patients have gone for four years insulin-free. The authors note in the paper that this adult stem cell treatment “remains the only treatment capable of reversing type 1 diabetes in humans.”

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 14, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson

by Robert Morrison

April 13, 2009

Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Born in 1743, Jefferson was described at age 32 as a young man who could “could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.”

Jefferson referred to his election as President as “the revolution of 1800.” It was even more hazardous than the famous “hanging chads” of the Florida recount in 2000. His two terms as President were followed by two terms for his closest friend and political lieutenant, James Madison. These two terms were followed by two terms-almost uncontested-for Jefferson’s second closest political ally, James Monroe. By the time John Quincy Adams was elected President in 1824, this son of an old political rival also counted himself a Jeffersonian.

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Did ABC Show “The Ten Commandments” a Week Late?

by Chris Gacek

April 13, 2009

Working under the assumption that a movie ought to be shown before the event it is meant to commemorate, I wondered this weekend if the folks at ABC mistimed their showing of a classic film.  But then again - maybe not. 

This past Saturday, Easter Eve (4/11/2009), ABC broadcast the much-beloved film by Cecil B. DeMille, The Ten Commandments.  The film is a classic.  Here is an excerpt from ABC’s press release:

Starring Charlton Heston as Moses, this dramatic Biblical epic is presented with an all-star cast, including Yul Brynner as Pharaoh, Anne Baxter as Queen Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as the overseer of the slaves and Yvonne DeCarlo as Moses’ wife.
 
The Ten Commandments won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Special Effects and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Sound.

Unfortunately, the movie was trounced at the Oscars by Around the Word in 80 Days (Best Picture) and The King and I ‘s Yul Brynner (Best Actor).  Heston was not even nominated for an Academy Award.

Since the weeklong celebration of Passover began last Wednesday night (4/8/2009), I probably would have shown The Ten Commandments before the beginning of Passover on the previous Saturday.  In that way, the events of the Jewish captivity in Egypt and the Israelite’s deliverance from bondage would have been retold before the entirety of the holiday.

That said, ABC may have had the far better approach - whether by accident or design.

From a Christian perspective, there is a beautiful Old Testament-New Testament flow in showing a film about Moses and the giving of the Law at Sinai on the eve of the Resurrection Sunday.  Jesus observed in Matt 5:17 (ESV):  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  A central promise made by the Lord and delivered through one those prophets is found in Jeremiah 31:33 (RSV):

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah’s declaration and its fulfillment seems to be echoed in this writing by Paul to the church in Galatia, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”  (Gal. 4:6 ESV).

All praise and glory to you, Lord.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 13, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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