New advance in slowing aging process; Collaboration readies next big step on ALS therapy

Stem Cell Research

> Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers say they've managed to make old blood stem cells act young again, a development that could lead to a new approach in slowing the aging process. "What's most exciting is that the changes that occur in blood stem cells during aging are reversible, through signals carried by the blood itself. This means that the blood system offers a potential therapeutic avenue for age-related stem cell dysfunction," says Amy Wagers, an associate professor in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Report

> Scientists at Stanford have managed to convert skin cells into brain cells, bypassing a once crucial step in first converting the cell to its embryonic state. Su-Chun Zhang, a University of Wisconsin stem cell researcher and professor of anatomy and neurology, says that the breakthrough could open the door to a day when you could, for example, convert brain cells to a new form to treat specific illnesses in the brain. Story

> Seoul National University has dropped a patent lawsuit over dog cloning technologies it filed against disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk. Story

> Stem Cell Therapy International has completed its merger with Histostem Ltd. of South Korea. Release


> The Ignite Institute for Individualized Health, a nonprofit focused on personalized health and drug development, is acquiring 100 new-generation sequencing machines from Life Technologies Corp. Story

> The ALS Therapy Development Institute and Oxford BioMedica say they're ready to take the next big step in the development of a new gene therapy for ALS. The collaboration is still in the preclinical phase. Report

> Single mutations in genes involved with nerve cell formation and growth appear to be associated with the risk of attempting suicide among individuals with depression, according to a report that will appear in the April print issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Release

Cancer Research

> Researchers at UCLA say they have sequenced the genome of a brain cancer cell line. "This was the most thorough sequencing analysis of an individual cancer cell line that has been performed to date," says senior author Stan Nelson. Report

> A new study indicates that two leukemia therapies have similar outcomes. While a peripheral blood stem cell transplant had a 49 percent survival rate while bone marrow transplants provided a 56.5 percent survival rate. Story

And Finally... Cells missegregate a chromosome approximately once every hundred divisions. But don't be too alarmed: New research in the Journal of Cell Biology shows that the tumor suppressor p53 limits the growth of cells with incorrect numbers of chromosomes and prevents their progression toward cancer. Release