Most people remember their first kiss but Victorian scientists have discovered that your first hug is much further back than you think.
Nicolas Plachta and his team at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute have discovered that embryos, when only eight cells in size, develop arm-like structures that ‘hug’ the cells into shape, helping to determine an embryo’s ultimate success.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, used live imaging and fluorescent markers to capture the action in mouse embryos.
A Melbourne scientist is harvesting the memory found in reprogrammed adult cells to develop cell therapy techniques that have the potential to cure a number of diseases.
Jose Polo, of Monash University, has found that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells don’t lose all their memory after reprogramming, flagging the possibility that a better understanding of these stem cells will aid regenerative medicine.
“Basically an iPS cell derived from muscle is more likely to reprogram back into muscle cells, while iPS cells derived from skin will generate skin cells,” says Jose. “And this could influence what type of iPS cell you might choose to generate a specific cell type.”
He’s back in the lab, working to convert the rich supply of stem cells found in the nose into specialised products to repair nerve damage or replace nerve cells lost in disorders such as hearing loss, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
But that’s just the latest phase in the full and distinguished life of the 2010 winner of Australia’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, molecular biologist Prof John Shine.
In 2011, he is stepping down after more than 20 years as executive director of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research which, under his guidance, has grown to a staff of more than 500, an annual budget of $50 million, and now boasts significant achievements in cancer, immunology, diabetes and obesity, osteoporosis and neuroscience.
Continue reading Back to the future for father of biotechnology
Embryonic stem cells from cattle can now be stored in mass in the laboratory, paving the way for advanced breeding developments in dairy cattle and other livestock.
These new ways of efficiently isolating and maintaining cells provide scientists from Australia’s Dairy Cooperative Research Centre with the raw materials to investigate a range of stem cell applications.
What if the very thing that assists a fetus to grow in the womb could also prevent disease in a fully grown adult?
Monash Institute of Medical Research scientists have discovered that stem cells from the womb have the potential to treat inflammatory diseases such as lung fibrosis and liver cirrhosis in both children and adults.
Dr Marnie Blewitt wants to know how a human being is made: how does a single fertilised egg develop into an adult with millions of cells performing a myriad of different functions.
“How does a cell know which of its 30,000 or so genes should be active and which should be dormant?” says Marnie, a researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.
Melbourne company bluechiip has invented tracking chips that survive cryogenic temperatures, high temperature sterilisation and irradiation.
Now they’re planning to use the chips to track submissions to cord blood and stem cell banks.
Researchers in Melbourne will trial a new procedure to reconstruct breasts in patients following mastectomy. The procedure will use the women’s own stem cells instead of silicon.
Focusing on the treatment and recovery of women with breast cancer, the new technique known as Neopec involves the insertion of a customised biodegradable chamber which is contoured to match the woman’s natural breast shape. The chamber acts as a scaffold within which the woman’s own stem cells are used to grow permanent breast fat tissue.