Stem cells repair retinal tissue; scientists say swine flu genes circulated for years; hair loss gene ID'd

Stem Cell Research

Bone marrow stem cells proved effective in repairing damaged retinal tissue. And scientists at the University of Louisville say that the cells could offer a new approach to treating age-related macular degeneration and hereditary retinal degeneration. Report

The UK government has awarded a four million pound grant to scientists exploring stem cell therapies for broken bones. Story

Once placed into a patient's body, stem cells intended to treat or cure a disease could end up wreaking havoc simply because they are no longer under the control of the clinician. But gene therapy has the potential to solve this problem, according to a perspective article from physician-scientists at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center published in a recent issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell. Release

Genetics

After sequencing 50 swine flu samples, researchers say that the genes in the virus may have been circulating in pigs for years, raising calls for better monitoring in the future. Report

Researchers in Japan have identified a gene that appears to determine cyclical hair loss in mice and believe it may also be responsible for hair loss, or alopecia, in people. Release

German scientists have found a genetic link between gum disease and heart disease. Report

Neurosensory diseases are difficult to model in mice because their symptoms are complex and diverse. The genetic causes identified are often lethal when transferred to a mouse. The lack of animal models slows progress in understanding and treating the diseases. By strategically altering a protein-making molecule, a mouse was made to help understand nervous system diseases that impair feeling and cause paralysis of the arms and legs in humans. Release

Cancer Research

A team of researchers say that a poor network of blood vessels could explain why patients with pancreatic cancer don't respond to VEGF inhibitors. They then combined an experimental drug from Infinity Pharmaceuticals with Eli Lilly's Gemzar and found that they could improve the chemotherapy's effect in animals. Story

Cancer biologists at the University of Oklahoma Cancer Institute say that they have discovered a new cancer stem cell protein and then learned how it can turn off a tumor suppressor mechanism while triggering a cancer-causing gene. "We are going to do much more animal testing to determine how this protein works," said one of the researchers. "We need some help to get it further into clinical trials and drug development and things like that. We're hoping to get support for that." Story

Cancer Research UK reports new research demonstrating how stem cells are activated to repair severe lung damage. That insight could lead to new tests for early identification of lung cancer. Report

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