F A S C I N A T I N G Development involves mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels to arrive at the complex anatomical and physiological structure of an organism. The study of development can shed light into the processes of many diseases that afflict people worldwide.
For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope
Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder.
“The diabetes research community has been waiting for ages for this type of breakthrough,” says Jorge Ferrer, who studies the genetics of β cells at Imperial College London. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.
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Image: Two weeks after transplant into a diabetic mouse, human pancreatic β cells made in the lab produce enough insulin (green) to cure the animal.

For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope

Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder.

“The diabetes research community has been waiting for ages for this type of breakthrough,” says Jorge Ferrer, who studies the genetics of β cells at Imperial College London. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.

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Image: Two weeks after transplant into a diabetic mouse, human pancreatic β cells made in the lab produce enough insulin (green) to cure the animal.

Reblogged from txchnologist  860 notes

Discovering The Brain’s GPS Earns Three A Nobel

txchnologist:

image

by Michael Keller

Three neuroscientists who uncovered how the brain understands where the body is in space have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, judges announced today. 

"How do we know where we are? How can we find the way from one place to another?" wrote the Nobel Assembly in making the announcement. “This year´s Nobel Laureates have discovered a positioning system, an ‘inner GPS’ in the brain that makes it possible to orient ourselves.”

Half of the prize went to John O’Keefe, an American and British citizen who is now the head of University College London’s Sainsbury Wellcome Center in Neural Circuits and Behavior. In 1971, O’Keefe found that certain neurons in a rat’s brain activated when the animal was in one location. When it moved somewhere else, other cells lit up. O’Keefe proposed that this activity engendered a sense of place and develop into a map of the external world. Furthermore, the collection of different “place cell” activations for a particular environment could be saved to remember a particular place later.

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Reblogged from currentsinbiology  1,012 notes
currentsinbiology:

Frozen Poop Pills Fight Life-Threatening Infections
Fecal transplants can be life-saving for people with stubborn bacterial infections, but they’re not for the faint of heart. So doctors have come up with a way to make them more palatable – the frozen poop pill.
Twenty people with recurrent C. diff infections took 15 pills a day, about the size of a large multivitamin, for two days. Fourteen of them were free of diarrhea almost immediately, with no recurrences. The other six tried the treatment again; that did the trick for four of them. The two people who failed to get results were in poorer health overall, the study found. But the treatment worked for people from age 11 to age 89.
The Mass General group has since treated another 21 people with the pills, with similar success. The results were announced Saturday at the IDWeek meeting in Philadelphia and published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

currentsinbiology:

Frozen Poop Pills Fight Life-Threatening Infections

Fecal transplants can be life-saving for people with stubborn bacterial infections, but they’re not for the faint of heart. So doctors have come up with a way to make them more palatable – the frozen poop pill.

Twenty people with recurrent C. diff infections took 15 pills a day, about the size of a large multivitamin, for two days. Fourteen of them were free of diarrhea almost immediately, with no recurrences. The other six tried the treatment again; that did the trick for four of them. The two people who failed to get results were in poorer health overall, the study found. But the treatment worked for people from age 11 to age 89.

The Mass General group has since treated another 21 people with the pills, with similar success. The results were announced Saturday at the IDWeek meeting in Philadelphia and published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

Reblogged from bbsrc  1,243 notes

bbsrc:

The secrets of cell development

Amazingly, all the cells in our body have exactly the same DNA and yet still manage to be completely different and carry out different jobs, from pumping our hearts to fighting off infections!

We have epigenetic marks to thank for this. Epigenetic marks (special molecules that attach at certain areas of the DNA) control how a DNA sequence is read and provide a mechanism for cell memory, without affecting the DNA sequence itself. These marks allow cells to interpret the uniform genetic information in different ways, by switching different genes on or off. The marks also help cells to remember which genes should be on and off and they can also pass this information onto other cells during cell division.

Without these epigenetic mechanisms cells would lose their identity, and to some extent that is what happens in diseases like cancer.

BBSRC-funded Professor Wolf Reik and Dr Fatima Santos, from the University Of Cambridge and The Babraham Institute, are studying stem cells, like the cells above, to find out more about epigenetic information: research which is providing us with new approaches to improve the potential of stem cells for regenerative medicine.

Image credits: Dr Fatima Santos

Read more: http://www.epigenesys.eu/en/

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/people-skills-training/2014/140612-f-gb-bioscience-pioneers-wolf-reik.aspx

Reblogged from currentsinbiology  427 notes

currentsinbiology:

bbsrc:

Catch the knitting bug

As part of the Great British Bioscience Festival, BBSRC is running Knit-a-Bug: The Great British Bioscience Knitting Competition. BBSRC invites knitters from across the UK to get creative with bioscience by knitting bacteria and viruses that can impact human and animal health. 

Send in pictures of your knitted nasties for a chance to win a  luxury knitter’s hamper and a subscription to Simply Knitting Magazine. Your bug will be judged by an expert team of scientists and knitters who will look for creativity and flair.

To enter, send in pictures of your knitted bugs to competition@bbsrc.ac.uk by 24 October 2014. Patterns for various bacteria and viruses are available to download from http://ow.ly/CbXLz or you can create your own.

For more information and full terms and conditions visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/events/1410-knit-a-bug.aspx.

Follow our knitting competition on Twitter using the hashtag #knitabug.

Images: Copyright Glasgow City of Science

I need to do this!

Reblogged from biomedicalephemera  1,368 notes

biomedicalephemera:

Types of Twins

Twins are more complex than just “identical” and “fraternal”!

Fraternal (or Sororal) Twins

When two eggs are released by the mother, and both are fertilized and implant successfully, two completely different gene sets develop into a fetus. The two eggs almost always develop their own placenta, and their own amniotic sac. These are scientifically known as dizygotic (di - two, zygote - egg) twins, and there’s a genetic basis to whether a female is predisposed to have them.

Identical (Monozygotic) Twins

When only one egg is released and fertilized, there’s a chance of identical twins forming. Unlike fraternal twins, there’s no genetic basis for the formation of identical twins, so it’s uncommon for families to have multiple sets of them. There are several types of monozygotic twins:

  • Dichorionic-Diamniotic Twins (DiDi)
    These twins have two (di-) chorions (which means they also have two placentas) and two amniotic sacs. They occur when splitting of the fertilized egg (embryo) occurs less than 72 hours after fertilization. Fraternal twins are also considered “DiDi”. Around 25% of identical twins are DiDi. These twins have the lowest mortality rate, at about 9%.

  • Monochorionic-Diamniotic (MoDi)
    These twins have one (mono-) chorion (meaning one placenta), but two amniotic sacs. This occurs when the embryo splits between 4 and 8 days after fertilization. Because they only have one placenta, there’s a risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Between 60-70% of identical twins (and about 0.3% of all pregnancies) are MoDi.

  • Monochorionic-Monoamniotic (MoMo)
    "MoMo" twins share both their chorion and amniotic sac. They make up about 1-2% of all monozygotic pregnancies, and occur when the embryo splits between 9-12 days after fertilization. They have the highest mortality rate of all monozygotic twin pregnancies, with only 50-60% surviving to birth. In addition to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, the risk of one or both fetuses becoming entangled in the umbilical cords and cut off from nutrition can lead to significant disability even when both babies survive.

  • Conjoined Twins
    When twins separate later than 12 days after fertilization, the split is very rarely complete, and conjoined twins occur. In general, the later the split, the less complete the split is. They have the highest mortality rate among twin pregnancies.

"Mirror Twins"

When MoMo twins split between the 10th and 12th day after fertilization, they often develop into “mirror twins" - that is, they’re the inverse of one another. Things like dominant handedness (left vs right-handedness), dominant eye, dental development, and even the direction of their organs inside their body can be reversed. Not all MoMo twins that split during  this time period are “mirror”, but many are.

Illustrations:

The Practice of Obstetrics. Edited by Charles Jewett, 1901.

See also:

Conjoined female twins in the Nuremberg Chronicles. By Hartmann Schedel, 1440-1514.

Placentation diagram by Kevin Dufendach at Wikipedia

Reblogged from brains-and-bodies  455 notes
brains-and-bodies:

From Daily Anatomy







Incredible view of the Corpus callosum! "The cerebral hemispheres are divided right down the middle into a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Each hemisphere appears to be specialized for some behaviors.The hemispheres communicate with each other through a thick band of 200-250 million nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. (A smaller band of nerve fibers called the anterior commissure also connects parts of the cerebral hemispheres.)It connects the left and right sides of the brain allowing for communication between both hemispheres. The corpus callosum transfers motor, sensory, and cognitive information between the brain hemispheres.As a last resort, the corpus callosum can be severed so that communication between the cerebral hemispheres is interrupted in cases of severe intractable epilepsy, but of course you can imagine that this is accompanied by strong neuropathological symptoms!”Image found on bobschuster.com
 

brains-and-bodies:

From Daily Anatomy

Incredible view of the Corpus callosum! 

"The cerebral hemispheres are divided right down the middle into a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Each hemisphere appears to be specialized for some behaviors.

The hemispheres communicate with each other through a thick band of 200-250 million nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. (A smaller band of nerve fibers called the anterior commissure also connects parts of the cerebral hemispheres.)

It connects the left and right sides of the brain allowing for communication between both hemispheres. The corpus callosum transfers motor, sensory, and cognitive information between the brain hemispheres.

As a last resort, the corpus callosum can be severed so that communication between the cerebral hemispheres is interrupted in cases of severe intractable epilepsy, but of course you can imagine that this is accompanied by strong neuropathological symptoms!”

Image found on bobschuster.com
 
Dividing cells showing chromosomes (purple) and cell skeleton (green)
This pig cell is in the process of dividing. The chromosomes (purple) have already replicated and the duplicates are being pulled apart by fibers of the cell skeleton known as microtubules (green). Studies of cell division yield knowledge that is critical to advancing understanding of many human diseases, including cancer and birth defects.
NIH

Dividing cells showing chromosomes (purple) and cell skeleton (green)

This pig cell is in the process of dividing. The chromosomes (purple) have already replicated and the duplicates are being pulled apart by fibers of the cell skeleton known as microtubules (green). Studies of cell division yield knowledge that is critical to advancing understanding of many human diseases, including cancer and birth defects.

NIH