Rhodri is lured into business world by prospect of bringing new hope to …
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Yamanaka team finds genes to identify defective iPS cells The Japan Times A research team led by Nobel laureate and Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, the discoverer of induce pluripotent stem cells, has turned up genes that can help…
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The mystery of why wounds heal more quickly in the young compared to the elderly may soon be solved following the discovery of two of the genes involved in tissue regeneration.
Scientists believe that the findings will help to develop new drugs and treatments for faster wound-healing as well as shedding light on the ageing process itself, and what could amount to a genetic “fountain of youth”.
Two teams of researchers found separate genes that accelerate tissue regeneration in laboratory mice. Both genes, which are also present in the human genome, are more active in young mice compared to older mice.
The scientists believe that the genes, called Lin28a and IMP1, are designed to be especially active during the foetal stages of development and are gradually turned off as an animal ages – which could explain why wounds take longer to heal in the elderly and how ageing occurs.
One of the teams, led by George Daley of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, activated the Lin28a gene in adult mice and found that shaved fur on their backs grew back much faster than in ordinary adult mice where the gene had not be artificially boosted.
“It sounds like science fiction, but Lin28a could be part of a healing cocktail that gives adults the superior tissue repair seen in juvenile animals,” said Dr Daley, whose study is published in the journal Cell.
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A nose growing from a forehead. An ear sprouting on an arm. These startling images represent a revolutionary approach to surgical reconstruction.
Images of a nose implanted on a man’s forehead have been all over the Internet, like ads for some creepy horror film you probably don’t want to see. Almost as jarring are pictures of an ear protruding from a woman’s inner arm.
They’re not from some horror movie—they’re real science. The nose-on-the-forehead photo depicts a nose repair in progress in China. The photo of the ear on an arm was published in the September 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Such surgeries are examples of new approaches to standard reconstructive techniques that may cost patients a few months of psychological discomfort but will eventually allow their facial features to be repaired.
Patrick Byrne, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins Health Care and Surgery Center in Green Spring Station, Maryland, believes his innovative ear reconstruction pictured in the NEJM was one of the first performed in the world. Growing noses on foreheads or ears on arms before transplanting them to the conventional locations is based on surgical reconstruction techniques going back hundreds of years. But modern-day applications are truly revolutionary, as Byrne explained in an interview with National Geographic News.
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Anyone who has left youth behind them knows that bumps and scrapes don’t heal as fast as they used to. But that could change with researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital finding a way to regrow hair, cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse by reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a. The discovery could lead to new treatments that provide adults with the regenerative powers they possessed when very young.
Lin28 is a gene that is abundant in embryonic stem cells and which functions in all organisms. It is thought to regulate the self-renewal of stem cells with the researchers finding that by promoting the production of certain enzymes in mitochondria, it enhances the metabolism of these cellular power plants that found in most of the cells of living organisms. In this way, Lin28 helps generate the energy needed to stimulate the growth of new tissues.
“We already know that accumulated defects in mitochondrial metabolism can lead to aging in many cells and tissues,” says Shyh-Chang Ng. “We are showing the converse – that enhancement of mitochondrial metabolism can boost tissue repair and regeneration, recapturing the remarkable repair capacity of juvenile animals.”
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