Cancer continues to mystify developers; Scripps advances ESC work; Rheumatoid arthritis genes identified;

Cancer Research

The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell takes an in-depth look at the incredibly complex and often frustrating world of cancer drug research. He uses the case of Synta's elesclomol, a therapy that stumbled on safety concerns in Phase III, to illustrate how much scientists have yet to learn about what causes cancer and how it can be treated. "Working backward to a solution requires a precise understanding of the problem, and cancer remains so mysterious and complex that in most cases scientists don't have that precise understanding. Or they think they do, and then, after they turn off one mechanism, they discover that the tumor has other deadly tricks in reserve." Article

Stem Cell Research

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have solved the decade-old mystery of why human embryonic stem cells are so difficult to culture in the laboratory, providing scientists with useful new techniques and moving the field closer to the day when stem cells can be used for therapeutic purposes. Report

Stem cells that had been extracted from the lining of a woman's uterus were injected into the brains of mice afflicted with Parkinson's, where they turned into brain cells. "Endometrial tissue is probably the most readily available, safest, most easily attainable source of stem cells that is currently available. We hope the cells we derived are the first of many types that will be used to treat a variety of diseases," said Yale's Dr. Hugh Taylor. Report

Researchers at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston won a $1.5 million NIH grant to study a stem cell therapy for heart failure. Story

Genetics

Researchers have revealed new mutant genes involved in rheumatoid arthritis. Report

New genetic evidence points to a link between high levels of triglycerides and heart disease. Story

A new study highlights a genetic link between schizophrenia and autism. Report

Scientists say they have identified a gene that play a role in atrial fibrillation, which could point to new therapies for the condition. Report

A family afflicted by Tourette syndrome has provided essential clues to the genetic causes of the disease. Story

And Finally... Scientists are studying half a billion years of gene evolution to better understand the origins of disease and how to treat it. Story

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