ALSO NOTED: Stem cells produce insulin; Breakthrough in breast cancer genomics;

Stem Cell Research

Using stem cells extracted from umbilical cords, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch teamed with scientists in the UK were able to coax them to produce insulin, offering an approach to curing diabetes. Dr. Randall Urban, who led the study, said that they were on the first rung of the ladder. The news follows a report from last week that Geron had used embryonic stem cells to create new pancreatic cells that could produce insulin. Report

Researchers at Japan's Kobe Center for Developmental Biology report in Nature Biotechnology that they have successfully achieved the efficient mass cultivation of human embryonic stem cells, a key step in the development of new stem cell therapies. Report

Physicians at Austria's Medical University of Innsbruck were able to extract and cultivate adult stem cells that were then injected back into the bodies of incontinent patients. The researchers said the approach was successful in repairing the damaged sphincters of 80 percent of the patients and that the results don't appear to fade over time. Report

Bone marrow stem cells attracted to the site of a cancerous growth frequently take on the outward appearance of the malignant cells around them, University of Florida researchers report in a paper to be published in the August issue of Stem Cells. But whether that enables them to fuel cancer's ability to develop and then spread, as some scientists suspect, is not entirely clear. Release

Cancer Research

There have been several new studies revolving around the genetics of breast cancer, and researchers in one say they have found a possible new gene related to breast cancer. Rap80 is described as a protein that plays an important role in allowing BRCA1 to do its DNA repair work. Report

Scientists have developed a more human-like mouse model of cancer they say will aid the search for cancer-causing genes and improve the predictive value of laboratory drug testing. The study was conducted by a team of researchers including Richard Maser, Ronald A. DePinho, Lynda Chin at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Release

Aspirin therapy's ability to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer appears to depend on the drug's inhibition of the COX-2 enzyme, the action that also underlies aspirin's usefulness for treating pain and inflammation. Report

More Research

Aridis Pharmaceuticals has teamed up with a group of students at Johns Hopkins to develop breath-mint technology to painlessly and easily deliver vaccines to children. The added advantage would be a new technology for vaccines that no longer relies on special storage requirements, making them much easier to deliver in developing countries. Report

A new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has confirmed that appetite-regulating peptides leptin and ghrelin influence alcohol cravings for some alcoholics. Report

New adult brain cells may be essential for the rejuvenation of a mature nervous system, according to a research team at Johns Hopkins. Report

For the first time anywhere, a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has succeeded in observing in vivo the generation of neurons in the brain of a mammal. Release

People whose blood shows signs of inflammation are more likely to later develop Alzheimer's disease than people with no signs of inflammation, according to a study published in the May 29 issue of Neurology. Report

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that hair follicles in adult mice regenerate by re-awakening genes once active only in developing embryos. Release

Citing financial reasons, the NIH's National Center for Research Resources has permanently banned breeding chimpanzees for biomedical research. Chimps can live 50 years in captivity and can cost up to $500,000 for proper care over their lifetime. Report

MIT researchers have developed ultra-sensitive nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy that can provide researchers with detailed pictures of complex molecules such as proteins. Report

Results from an international multi-center Phase II clinical trial suggest that extracorporeal photopheresis may be effective in treating patients with clinically active (or symptomatic) Crohn's disease who cannot tolerate or are refractory to immunosuppressants and/or anti-TNF agents. Report

Effector proteins are the bad guys that help bacterial pathogens do their job of infecting the host by crippling the body's immune system. In essence, they knock down the front door of resistance and disarm the cell's alarm system. Release