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Stem Cells

December 7, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
The board of California's stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process, according to a new report from independent experts convened by the national Institute of Medicine. The committee found that "far too many" of the board members are from organizations that stand to benefit from the $3 billion the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is supposed to dole out to researchers over 10 years.
December 6, 2012 | By Michael Hiltzik
The signs are not encouraging. On Thursday, a blue-ribbon committee of the National Academy of Sciences issued its report on its yearlong critical review of California's $6-billion stem cell program, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The report will be formally presented to CIRM at a meeting Dec. 12. The review committee found that embedded conflicts of interest on the CIRM board "threaten to ... undermine respect for its decisions. " The lack of independent, disinterested members on a board made up mostly of officials of institutions in line to obtain CIRM grants or advocates for patients of specific diseases "erodes confidence" in the board's ability to handle its strategic responsibilities, the panel added.
December 3, 2012 | By Eryn Brown
In a small but hopeful step for researchers working on therapies to treat Parkinson's disease, a team in Japan has used stem cells harvested from bone marrow to restore function in monkeys with the debilitating condition. The cell transplants didn't cure the macaques, but did improve motor skills in the animals and appeared to do so safely, the scientists wrote Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation - suggesting that stem cells from bone marrow might someday be a useful source for treatments of Parkinson's in humans.
November 11, 2012 | By Kavita Daswani, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Here is a selection of some new offerings at the prestige end of the market, many predicated on exclusive ingredients and newfangled technology: Super Cream from 3LAB, exclusively at Barneys, joins that brand's high-priced roster but remains its most expensive launch to date. Co-founder Erica Chung attributes the $875 price to the cream's Intelligent Targeting Device technology, which is supposed to drive collagen and elastin to the cells that need it the most. The Bee Venom Mask from Heaven Skin Care became an overnight sensation when word came out that Kate Middleton, wife of England's Prince William, used it. Soon to be available in the U.S., the $560 Limited Edition Golden Bee Venom Mask contains a high concentration of bee venom, which is supposed to have something of a Botox effect on the skin.
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.
October 17, 2012 | Michael Hiltzik
StemCells Inc. has a history not much different from those of dozens, even hundreds, of biotech companies all around California. Co-founded by an eminent Stanford research scientist, the Newark, Calif., firm has struggled financially while trying to push its stem cell products through the research-and-development pipeline. It collects about $1 million a year from licensing patents and selling cell cultures but spends well more than $20 million annually on R&D, so it runs deeply in the red. On the plus side, StemCells Inc. has had rather a charmed relationship with the California stem cell program, that $3-billion taxpayer-backed research fund known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
October 12, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
Scientists have performed the first successful neural stem cell transplant into the brains of four boys with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease. The disorder is a rare but tragic condition that impacts motor abilities, coordination and cognitive function. Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease does its damage by stripping away the fatty substance called myelin that surrounds brain cells. Myelin acts as an insulator, like rubber on the outside of a wire, helping the electrical impulses that carry information in the brain travel at high speeds.
October 9, 2012 | Eryn Brown and Jon Bardin
Two scientists who upended fundamental beliefs about biology by demonstrating that every cell in the body has the potential to grow into every other type of cell have won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Sir John Gurdon and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka were honored Monday for "the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed" to return to a very early state of development, the Nobel committee said in its citation. Their research is still years away from yielding a clear breakthrough in medical treatment.
October 8, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their research on resetting cells to their earliest developmental stages. The work has yet to yield a clear breakthrough in medical treatment, but it has revolutionized scientists' ability to study both normal and diseased development. Gurdon, 79, performed his seminal work in the late 1950s and early 1960s - a good deal of it before Yamanaka was born. In his most famous study, Gurdon showed that replacing the nucleus of an adult cell with the nucleus of an embryonic cell reset the adult cell to an embryonic state: Many of the cells became tadpoles.
October 5, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Reaching a long-sought milestone, Japanese researchers have demonstrated in mice that eggs and sperm can be grown from stem cells and combined to produce healthy offspring, pointing to new treatments for infertility. If the achievement can be repeated in humans - and experts said they are optimistic that such efforts will ultimately succeed - the technique could make it easier for women in their 30s or 40s to become mothers. It could also help men and women whose reproductive organs have been damaged by cancer treatments or other causes.
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