Genetically modified high school grads, stem cell treatment for diabetes, and deciphering memory engrams.

A couple of years ago I did an article on the disclosure that mitochondrial genetic modifications were carried out on thirty embryos in the year 2001 to treat mitochondrial diseases that would probably have been fatal later in life. I also wrote in the article that this does not constitute full scale genetic modification ala the movie Gattaca. It is true that mitochondria are essential to human life but they do not seem to influence any traits that we usually think about, such as increased intelligence or hair color, as they are primarily involved in metabolism. In other words, mitochontrial …

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Growing human retinas in vitro, patching damaged brains, and imaging an entire brain's activity.

In the journal Nature earlier this month a paper was published by one Dr. Valeria Canto-Soler who works in the field of regenerative medicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns-Hopkins University. Medical science has gotten pretty good at creating induced pluripotent stem cells, or stem cells which started out as other kinds of human body cells that were hacked to devolve back into pluripotent stem cells which can then be caused to differentiate into other, more specialized kinds of cells. Dr. Canto-Soler and her research team have taken this process to the next logical step: Causing those cultured stem …

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Regeneration of living tissue in situ and a surprising observation in antisenescence.

Ordinarily if something happens that causes a chunk of your body to be removed (like, say, a shark bite) there isn't a whole lot that can be done to fill it back in. Scar tissue will form over the wound and skin will eventually cover over it, but that doesn't cause lost muscle and bone to come back. It's kind of scary, when you think about it - what's lost is lost. But that may not be the caes for much longer. A research team active in the field of regenerative medicine at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the …

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Mass producing custom stem cells and advances in desktop testing.

Let's cut through some FUD: Human stem cells are pretty easy to come by. Embryos have not been involved in the process for well over ten years that I can recall off the top of my head, and probably closer to twenty. Every human body has stockpiles of them that can be extracted with minor surgical procedures. The procedures in question usually involves scarily long needles that reach deeply enough inside the body to extract them, which might be why research into re-embryonization of other kinds of cells has proceeded at a good clip. To summarize, medical science has been …

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Just when you thought biotech couldn't get any more fascinating.

Biology and medicine have long known that more advanced forms of life emit various forms of energy as they go about their business. Mammals emit heat as a byproduct of their metabolisms, and the electrical activity of the musculature, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems may be picked up by sensitive instruments and used for diagnostic purposes. Recently, researchers in Japan have discovered that human bodies also emit light in the visble spectrum, albeit in a fashion that most sensors cannot detect. In fact, most lifeforms emit visible light in some fashion though the mechanism behind it isn’t understood. This …

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It seems that I'll be in town for a while, so I'll actually be able to post.

This is week four of my "three weeks out, one week in" work cycle, so I'll have much more constant net.access for at least a couple of days. I may as well take the time to write a couple of updates. My off-the-road workload has been sizable lately, enough so that even working from home means a day of solid work, with little to no socially acceptable goofing off at work stuff going on, such as reading Slashdot or checking one's e-mail. Work aside, I haven't been doing much of anything at all. Yesterday morning, Lyssa and I drove …

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More biotech: Cloning from cell samples?

Cellular biologists working for the company Stemagan, based out of San Diego, California, have claimed something amazing: That they've managed to produce human embryos using skin cells from men instead of gametes (NY Times link - use Bugmenot if you need access). The embryos thus produced didn't develop very far, only to the blastocyst stage, but that in itself is a breakthrough. It wasn't necessary to force the division of the third stage for example (which is thought to have happened by accident under laboratory conditions at least once in medical history), for example. However, because embryonic stem cells weren't part …

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Explosive post queue flush in three.. two.. one....

As one might expect, it's been a busy couple of days (a week, really), which has kept me from being able to post anything. I got back from Philly around 1700 EST5EDT last Friday, and I've been offline pretty much the entire weekend because I've been too tired to do much of anything. After I got back, Lyssa made a wonderful hot dinner (all the more special because temperatures in the tri-state area have been averaging in the mid-twenties Fahrenheit), and then we decided to get together with some friendly faces to hang out for the evening. To that end …

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