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February 7, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
It's one of the most vexing problems in medical science: How can you mend a broken heart? A decade ago, researchers and cardiologists thought they had found an answer in stem cells. These powerful cells lurk throughout the body, repairing and maintaining tissues as needed. In the laboratory, scientists can transform them into heart cells. When implanted in animals, they grow into new heart tissue too. So it was with high hopes that researchers transfused stem cells into patients suffering from heart failure — people whose hearts, weakened by heart attacks or other conditions, no longer pumped enough blood through their bodies.
November 12, 2010 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
A specific type of stem cells transplanted into the leg muscles of injured young mice not only repaired the muscle damage but triggered changes in the muscle tissue that made it resistant to normal aging. The surprising finding, which was published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine suggests that, under the proper conditions, stem cells might regenerate muscle tissue. Researchers led by Bradley Olwin of the University of Colorado, Boulder, took stem cells from the muscles of young donor mice and transplanted them into mice with muscle injuries.
November 6, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
Stem cell therapy may help repair the hearts of patients who have suffered heart attacks, and, according to a new study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., it may not matter whether those stem cells come from the patient or a donor. For decades, common belief was that areas of the heart severely damaged by a heart attack could not be repaired. But the development of advanced cell therapies, in which stem cells or other cell types are injected into the damaged area, have provided new hope that interventions may be possible.
November 2, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Sweeping away so-called senescent cells -- aging cells that have stopped dividing -- can slow aging-related ailments, including cataracts and muscle loss, in mice, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said. According to the scientists' study, which was published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, the role of senescent cells in aging-related disorders is not well understood.   Senescence has a purpose: It slows the proliferation of damaged cells in the body, and thus plays a role in halting the growth of cancers.
February 13, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Researchers have used cardiac stem cells to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have suffered heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarction. The small preliminary study, which was conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, involved 25 patients who had suffered heart attacks in the previous one and a half to three months.  Seventeen of the study subjects received infusions of stem cells cultured from a raisin-sized chunk of their own heart tissue, which had been removed via catheter.
August 1, 2012 | By Rosie Mestel and Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
When cancers are treated, tumors may shrink but then come roaring back. Now studies on three different types of tumors suggest a key reason why: The cancers are fueled by stem cells that chemotherapy drugs don't kill. The findings - made by independent research teams that used mice to study tumors of the brain, intestines and skin - could change the approach to fighting cancers in humans, experts said. Properties of these so-called cancer stem cells can be investigated so researchers can devise strategies for killing them off, said Luis F. Parada, a molecular geneticist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and senior author of one of the studies published Wednesday.
June 8, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Scientists at University College London have been able to coax cells in the hearts of adult mice to grow new, beating heart tissue. The work, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, is part of a body of research that fuels hopes that someday scientists will figure out a way to stimulate stem-like cells in adult human hearts to mend the damage caused by heart attacks.  Cracking that nut is one of the foremost challenges in cardiology.  About...
August 19, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Like most card-carrying conservatives, Texas Gov. Rick Perry opposes research on embryonic pluripotent stem cells.   But the presidential candidate apparently has a very open mind toward therapies developed using adult stem cells, which can be collected from a patient's own body.  So open, in fact, that on July 1 he apparently received experimental stem cell surgery on his own back.  In the procedure, doctors removed some of Perry's fat cells,...
March 24, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Our bones are remarkable feats of engineering; strong and yet light, shot through with holes and yet able to bear incredible loads. This super-strong natural material is built as cells incorporate hard minerals like calcium into living tissue. Now, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are borrowing this idea from nature: They've created living cells that incorporate inorganic matter like gold and quantum dots. These bacterial factories, described in the journal Nature Materials, could one day help create fully functional hybrid "living materials" that could be integrated into everyday objects and devices, from solar panels to adjustable furniture.
September 20, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Two new recipients of the MacArthur fellowships -- the so-called genius awards that provide $500,000 each to recipients to help them pursue any projects they like -- will use their prize money to delve into the inner workings of some of nature's tiniest structures: viruses and stem cells. Elodie Ghedin, a 44-year-old genomics scientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, decodes the genomes of pathogens such as parasites and viruses to understand how they adapt to their hosts and evolve.
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