Early immune cells created from embryonic stem cells

Researchers at UC, Los Angeles have created cells that go on to form normal T cells out of human embryonic stem cells. What’s more, these cells were grown in the absence of animal feeder cells, which are usually needed to sustain embryonic stem cells. Avoiding potential contamination by such feeder cells is an important step in generating cells that can be transplanted into people. The researchers describe a series of steps that drive human embryonic stem cells to begin developing as T cells. When they transplanted the cells into mice with human thymus tissue, where T cells normally mature, those cells did mature into normal adult T cells. In addition, the group inserted genes into their immature T cells before transplantation and saw evidence that those genes were active in the mature, transplanted cells. This work brings researchers closer to creating cells that can be transplanted into people as a therapy for disorders of the immune system, including HIV/AIDS.

Stem Cells: October 30, 2008 (online publcation)
CIRM funding: Zoran Galic (RS1-00203), Aparna Subramaniana (T1-00005), Jerome Zack (RC1-00149)

Related Information: The Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA , Zack bio

Embryonic stem cells repair heart damage in mice

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that cells derived from human embryonic stem cells could repair damage in a mouse model of heart attack. The researchers first looked at which genes were active at every stage between the human embryonic stem cells and early heart muscle cells. The cells they implanted mirrored the genes that are active in the hearts of 20 week old fetal mice. After injecting the cells into the heart of a mouse with an induced heart attack, they found that the cells incorporated into the heart and significantly improved the heart’s ability to pump blood. This work could lead to new stem cell-based therapies for repairing damaged heart tissue

PLoS ONE: October 22, 2008
CIRM funding: Joseph Wu (RS1-00322)

Related Information: Stanford Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute, Wu bio

New Stem Cell Lines Created from Testes Biopsy

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have created new stem cell lines from cells found in the human testes. Like embryonic stem cells, these cell lines are pluripotent, which means that they can form all cell types in the adult body. The work follows similar research finding that adult stem cells in mouse testes can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells. However, the researchers found that the cells differed from embryonic stem cells in several important ways. This is in contrast to a recent paper in Nature finding that the testes-derived stem cells are equivalent to their embryonic counterparts. The researchers suggest that different conditions in the lab may create cells that are more similar to truly pluripotent embryonic cells. Despite the differences, these reprogrammed stem cells cells could be a source of new sperm in men who become infertile due to chemotherapy. They could also one day become a source of stem cells for patient-specific transplants.

Stem Cells: October 16, 2009 (online publication)
CIRM funding: Renee Reijo Pera (RC1-00137)

Related Information: Press Release, Stanford Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute, Pera bio