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Science Does Something Useful, Sort of Cures Baldness

Hey, buddy? They have stem cells for that.

Gentleman, I feel for you. When you lose your hair, society wants you to think that your virility and health are rapidly fading and soon you'll be a specter at death's door. Thankfully, science may finally have done what creams, pills, implants and prayers have not been able to, and discovered a cure for hair loss.

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Scientists Figured out How to Make Stem Cells From Regular Cells With Acid

So stem cells are just regular cells on acid. Am I doing it right?

Stem cells have amazing implications for medicine and genetics, but they've been bogged down for a long time in ethical debates and difficult cultivation procedures. That may all end with a new technique for creating stem cells by dipping any old cell in acid, which is way better than if dipping them in acid created a bunch of microscopic Two-Faces.

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Sperm Are Perfect and One Day They May Save Your Life, Say Creators of Spermbots

Sperm brought you into this world, and sperm will keep you here.

Though we may sometimes curse the speed of sperm (sorry Mom, Dad), tiny bio-bots that mimic the flagellar movement of natures' lil' swimmers and are powered by the contractions of heart cells may be the next step in fighting cancer and other common illnesses. In other words, when our heart and sperm work together as one, we ill be unstoppable.

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Human Liver Buds Successfully Grown From Stem Cells

The liver buds continue to grow in mouse transplant subjects, suggesting they could one day help to save human lives.

Researchers at Japan's Yokohama City University have reported in Nature this week that they have used stem cells to create human liver buds that continue to grow and perform the organ's normal functions when transplanted into mice. In experiments, the lab-grown liver-ettes even helped to stave off death in mice suffering from liver failure. Though a preliminary step that may not see practical application for years, this represents a major discovery that shows promise for growing human organs from scratch for use in organ transplants.

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Stem Cells Made From Cloned Human Embryos for the First Time

In a scientific first, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have created cloned human embryos they can use to harvest embryonic stem cells for human transplant. The long-sought advance -- which has the potential to make stem cell therapies safer and less prone to rejection -- has been the goal of many stem cell researchers for years, and will no doubt prove controversial, but could have the capability to drive the next stage of development in human stem cell therapies that could one day prove capable of of treating a vast range of diseases.

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Epilepsy in Mice Cured By An Injection of Fresh Brain Cells

A team at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has seemingly cured epileptic seizures in mice suffering from the disease by injecting a dose of specialized cells directly into their brains. The work could pave the way for similar cell therapy procedures to one day treat the same disease in humans.

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Stem Cells Used To Grow Functioning, Implantable Thyroid Gland

Researchers at the Free University of Belgium have unveiled what could be the new cool thing in the growing field of regenerative medicine -- an implantable thyroid gland grown from stem cells. The thyroid, implanted in a mouse test subject for trials, even produced hormones as it was meant to, which is important because, well, it's most of what the thyroid does, and if a replacement doesn't do that, it's not a very good replacement. But this one does, and may be, respectively, which is super cool in an abstract sense and even more so if you're a family member of on of the millions of people affected by poorly functioning thyroid gland.

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Artificial Eggs and Artificial Sperm Produce Real, Adorable Baby Mice

The oft-asked question "How is babby formed?" just got a little more complicated to answer. A team of Japanese researchers have reared baby mice who are the product of joining an artificial sperm cell and an artificial egg. Both of the reproductive cells in question were made by transforming adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the lab created stem cell strains that have shown both promise and peril in recent studies. Those iPSCs were then turned into sperm and egg cells, respectively, and finally turned into adorable mouse pups.

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Turning Adult Cells Into Stem Cells Is Eerily Similar to Turning Them Into Cancer Cells

Today in Bad News: Stem cell research could have hit a sizable stumbling block today as researchers at the University of California - Davis released a study demonstrating similarities between laboratory processes that turn adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and natural processes that turn cells cancerous. The troubling research adds to a growing body of evidence that iPSCs, while promising, are not ready for primetime. The silver lining though, is that understanding what's wrong with iPSCs today is the first step towards fixing it tomorrow.

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Key Difference Between Embryonic and Induced Stem Cells Discovered, Could Make Treatments Safer

While there's maybe no medical technology today with more potential, stem cell treatments are not without their own problems. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) -- those created in a laboratory after being devolved from other adult cells -- are getting easier to make every day, but are still expensive to manufacture and run the risk of causing health problems of their own, possibly even becoming cancerous. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), meanwhile, have been shown to be effective and largely safe for patients, but their use in medicine remains controversial. A team of researchers working at the Salk Institute and the University of California San Diego has taken a step toward understanding what makes both sorts of cells tick, though. They've discovered a unique molecular signature that indicates when a stem cell has been created in a lab rather than harvested from an unimplanted embryo.

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Court Finds Government Allowed to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Ready for a story in which the part about stem cell research is the least complicated thing happening? The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld a lower court's decision to toss out a lawsuit that would have prevented the federal government from funding research on embryonic stem cells. The long and the short of that? Federal research dollars from the National Institutes of Health can fund research on embyronic stell cells.

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Fountain of Youth Treatment Turns Blood Cells Back Into Stem Cells

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered a way to give adult red blood cells a new lease on life. Using a little genetic tweaking and a short sharp shock of electrical current, the JHU team may have found a fast and reliable way to transform everyday blood cells back into pluripotent stem cells. Those cells could play a big part in the future of medicine, holding promising treatments for everything from cancer to organ replacements and transplants.

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Researchers Track Cancerous Tumors Back to Stem Cells

Our understanding of cancer and tumors has grown tremendously over the years. Ways to help prevent, diagnose, and treat a variety of cancers have cropped up over time, but we still haven't been able to eliminate it at the source. That may very well change as we continue to investigate a recent series of experiments. A group of researchers have tracked cancerous growth in mice back to a specific subset of cells for skin cancer, brain cancer, and stomach cancer.

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Researchers Combat Tumors from Stem Cell Therapy

Pluripotent stem cells are cells that can grow into any tissue. The ability to turn into any type of cell makes pluripotent stem cells a promising treatment for any number of disorders. However, this ability to differentiate into anything also comes with a dangerous side effect: The cells that don't turn into the desired tissue can instead form dangerous tumors called teratomas. However, researchers have now demonstrated a method to weed out the dangerous teratoma forming cells from the beneficial stem cells. Led by Micha Drukker, a team of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine developed a new antibody that can identify the cells that don't differentiate into the needed tissue before they are transplanted into a patient. The researchers accomplished this by targeting pluripotency surface markers (PSMs,) which are changes within a cell that signify which type of cell it will become. The researchers targeted these specific cellular landmarks by developing antibodies that could seek out cells that did not differentiate.

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Study: Stem Cells Grow Functional Mouse Teeth

Chow down on this: scientists in Japan have used the stem cells of mice to grow replacement teeth that are fully functional when implanted into the mouse's mouth. The "bioengineered tooth unit," otherwise known as the tooth grown from the stem cells, was created by a team of researchers led by Takashi Tsuji at Tokyo University of Science. To make the teeth, the researchers removed stem cells from mouse molar teeth.The cells were put in culture in the lab to go in a specific mold that would guide the shape and size of the future tooth. When the cells had matured into complete teeth, the researchers transplanted them into the jaws of one-month-old mice. The transplanted teeth were fused with the jaw bones of the mice within an average of 40 days. At this time the researchers were also able to detect nerve fiber growth in the newly transplanted teeth.

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First Synthetic Organ Transplant Used to Treat Cancer Pateint

An African student living Iceland has been the first to receive a transplanted organ grown entirely from his own cells. In this case, the patient's trachea was ravaged by throat cancer, requiring a replacement. Instead of wading through the tedious donor process, doctors opted instead to grow the organ from the patient's stem cells. The new organ was grown in a mere two days.

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Gross, Squicky but Still Impressive Video Of the Day: The Skin Gun

Jörg C. Gerlach has invented a revolutionary technique for regenerating skin after severe burns that makes perfect sense to us. After all, airbrushing works so well in Photoshop, why shouldn't airbrushing stem cells directly onto burn sites work in real life? We've posted the video behind the jump because it's got some pretty graphic pictures of burned skin in various states of healing. International viewers can find a video here.

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First Human Clinical Trial for Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Begins

Exciting news: Researchers have commenced the first human clinical trial for embryonic stem cell therapy. On Friday, they injected human stem cells into a patient with a spinal injury, probing the possible use of stem cells to restore the ability to walk and to give greater control of bodily functions. Should the results of this limited-scale human trial prove safe, not leading to pain or tumor growth, scientists will be able to test the efficacy of human stem-cell treatment.

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Geekolinks: 8/12

Obama Stem Cell Policy Put On Hold by Federal Judge

Last year, President Obama issued an executive order to remove "limitations on scientific inquiry" affecting human embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research. Yesterday, a federal judge named Royce C.  Lamberth may have slapped those limitations back on when he ruled against Obama's order, saying that it violated a law first passed in 1996 and renewed each year since that bans "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

Judge Lamberth issued a temporary injunction that returns federal policy to the "status quo" -- only nobody knows what that means, and the distinction is not a trivial one for many scientists whose work involves embryonic stem cells:

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