ALSO NOTED: Animal stem cell therapy headed for human trials; Gene variant linked to cancer resistance;

Stem Cell Research

New research into artificial skin that releases a stem cell-attracting protein points to a new approach to treating burn victims. Report

The U.K.'s VetCell BioScience has been developing a stem cell therapy for tendon damage in horses. And now it's planning to mount human trials to test the same techniques on orthopedic injuries. The stem cells are extracted from bone marrow before being purified, multiplied and injected back into the damaged area. Report

Johns Hopkins researchers have identified a backup supply of stem cells that can repair the most severe damage to the nerves responsible for our sense of smell. These reservists normally lie around and do nothing, but when neighboring cells die, the scientists say, the stem cells jump into action. Release

New studies in the laboratory of Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, Director of Tulane University's Center for Gene Therapy, are shedding light on the previously mysterious mechanism through which even relatively small amounts of stem/progenitor cells taken from a patient's own bone marrow enhance the repair of damaged tissues. Report

Oregon is joining the lineup of states debating a measure to fund stem cell research. Report

Cancer Research

Scientists at Dundee University have found a gene variant in people who are less likely to develop lung cancer. That gene variant also breaks down a protein linked to the development of cancer, and researchers are now studying if the variant could be linked with various forms of cancers. Report

The American Cancer Society is launching the Cancer Prevention Study 3, which aims to enroll a geographically and ethnically diverse group of half a million adults across the United States to help pave the way for the next generation of cancer research and further advance the understanding of the lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer. Release

Canadian researchers have created primitive leukemia stem cells which were then injected into mice so they could better study the way the disease progresses. Report

University of Virginia researchers have discovered that microRNAs, a form of genetic material, can function as tumor suppressors in laboratory studies. UVa researchers Drs. Yong Sun Lee and Anindya Dutta have shown that microRNAs can suppress the overexpression of a gene called HMGA2. This gene is related to creation of fatty tissue and certain tumors, as well as diet-induced obesity. Release

Researchers at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals Case Medical Center have developed methods for treating lung cancer cells that have become resistant to new anti-cancer agents. Release

A simple modification in an anti-cancer treatment currently in clinical trials substantially improves the drug's effectiveness and reduces side effects in experiments with laboratory mice, researchers are reporting in an article scheduled for the May 16 edition of ACS' Bioconjugate Chemistry. Enzon Pharmaceuticals' David Filpula and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute worked on SS1P, a so-called immunotoxin that targets and destroys cells producing the surface protein mesothelin. Release

A Johns Hopkins team has stopped a form of blood cancer in its tracks in mice by engineering and inactivating an enzyme, telomerase, thereby shortening the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. Release

More Research

A new study says two gene variants are linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration. The study points to new ways to prevent AMD. Release

Yale University researcher Craig Crews has been studying a compound derived from traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for one of the most lethal forms of kidney disease. Release

A new study from the University of Michigan Health System suggests that a compound in green tea may provide therapeutic benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis. Release

A gene found exclusively and at high levels in the brain appears to be a key player in enabling more sophisticated brain function, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in Science. Report

Scientists have shown that a tiny microRNA molecule called miR-155, plays a critical role in immune defense and may be a lynchpin in the immune system. The findings reported in Science reveal that mice lacking the bic/miR-155 gene, one of the world's first microRNA 'knockout' mice, have compromised immune systems and are less able to resist infection and mount an immune response to bacteria like Salmonella typhimurium, a leading cause of human gastroenteritis. They also develop symptoms similar to those of human autoimmune disorders. Release

For the first time, a new study demonstrates that certain rodents can be directly infected with chronic wasting disease and therefore serve as animal models for further study of the disease. Report

A U.S.-led study has identified a new virus that caused the deaths of three Australian transplant patients who received organs from a single donor. Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, and 454 Life Sciences in Branford, CT, said the newly gained knowledge of the genetic sequence of the virus will enable improvements in screening to enhance transplantation safety. The previously unknown virus was found using rapid sequencing technology established by 454 Life Sciences and bioinformatics algorithms developed in the Greene Laboratory. Release

Findings described in a new study by Stanford scientists may be the first step toward a major development in human regenerative medicine--a future where advanced organ damage can be repaired by the body itself. In the May 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal, researchers show that a human evolutionary ancestor, the sea squirt, can correct abnormalities over a series of generations, suggesting that a similar regenerative process might be possible in people. Report

The anti-anginal medication ranolazine was shown to be safe in regard to certain outcomes but did not reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as death, heart attack or recurrent ischemia following acute coronary syndromes, according to a study in the April 25 issue of JAMA. Release

An in-depth article in the spring 2007 edition of Countdown, the quarterly journal of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, details ongoing human clinical trials in diabetic retinopathy, and important findings that have been made to date. In the article, JDRF-funded scientists share valuable insights into the causes of retinopathy, as well as the therapeutics that are being developed as a result of the identification of new biological targets. Release

Researchers in the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia are studying the possible use of carboranes, clusters of boron and carbon atoms, to prevent negative side effects of cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors which can prevent the build-up of protein plaque in the blood. Release