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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Human stem cell line made with sickle cell anemia mutation (and the case of the Ramen-eating dog)

I'm trying to keep up with posting....but along with my lab work and trying to figure out the big engineering project for the GAMES camp among other things, I actually have a sort of secret project I am working on.  I will let you all know what it is in a few days once it is done.  Wish me luck!


Science Daily just posted the story of a research team from Johns Hopkins, in trying to improve upon the newer way to create pluripotent stem cells using four genes inserted into a somatic cell to revert them to a ES-like state, found a quicker way by adding T antigen (a protein) from the SV-40 virus and then they subsequently introduced the mutation to make a cell line behave just like sickle cell anemia. 


Stem cells are often touted for their future medical potential, but it is important to remember that having cells that can express specific diseases in the laboratory will help further our understanding of what is happening during particular diseases without relying solely upon transgenic animals as models (transgenic animals have mutations made at an early embryonic stage so the entire animal expresses the disease) or without having to continually obtain samples from human patients.  And, for now, it is important to remember that these cells have been reverted to a so-called embryonic state by inserting cancer genes.  It is as of yet unclear the long term implications of using such cells for therapy purposes, but it does circumvent the ethical issues surrounding the use of ES cells.


OK, OK, I didn't want to post non-science stuff, but this is actually irresistible!  I discovered the other day that my dog ATE AN ENTIRE CASE OF RAMEN NOODLES! (not just for poor science graduate students anymore!).  I think she got tired of eating around the packaging, too, so ate some of that as well--along with the silver foil flavor packets.  Sigh.  I suspect she is feeling quite dehydrated as her digestive tract was busy reconstituting the noodles. Her poor kidneys are probably not too happy with her right now. And, I don't even want to imagine what her intestines must be going through!

Sat, May 31, 2008 | link 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Surgery to repair bone....but not for mom this time!

Before I move on to the latest in the "more than I care to count" excursions to surgical waiting rooms, let me thank all of you who have sent me such nice notes about my website.  Thanks so much for taking the time to peruse what I have assembled in such a brief time. I will truly fall over if any of you make good on your promises (threats?) to make your home page!!!


One student jokingly asked if I would be blogging about "the guy who cut me off in traffic" type of issues and my answer was "Only if it had a science topic I could relate to it!"  Rest assured, you will only listen to my personal stuff as long as it has a cell biology or bioengineering story. There seems to be no shortage of medical dramas surrounding me. 


I think my mom enjoys collecting surgical scars.  If anyone has heard me over the course of a few months, you surely have heard of anyone of the numerous surgeries she has had. She has almost given up every non-essential organ (still has two kidneys, though) and is slowly getting many artificial replacement parts. Today, though, I waited while another family member had surgery for a dancing injury. Condensed version: osteochondral defect of the first metatarsal.  In this case,   The cartilage was still intact, but the bone had caved in, creating a crater.  The orthopedic surgeon has promised me a video or a picture--excellent!  There were two options for this surgery, depending on what he found when he cut open the toe.  1) if the cartilage was intact, he was going to drill several small holes through the cartilage into the bone in order to bring blood to the area and accelerate healing or 2) if the cartilage was peeling away, he was going to implant a hydroxyapatite plug to facilitate the healing.  Disappointingly for all of you bioengineers, I'm sad to report that it was NOT option 2, thus the doc's promise to give me a video.


On the plus side, besides a successful surgery and good prognosis, I may have a potential collaboration with the doc about creating implants infused with the patient's own growth factors to stimulate healing.  I don't have details, but I think this would be incredibly interesting. 


How bone heals and why blood or hydroxyapatite are useful........ 

Thu, May 22, 2008 | link 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

At the mercy of mast cells! Beaten down by basophils.....

impotent against IgE and more! Some of you here will recognize these proteins and cells as some of those that are key players in the allergic response!


I was looking forward to 10 weeks of not living in a bed and breakfast (although the ladies at the Senator's Inn and Retreat were just amazing) or imposing upon my friends by house sitting for some professors who are in Europe for that time.  I suspected they had mold in their basement when I saw the place but had NO idea the extent to which I would react to it. The first morning I awoke from sleeping there, I was miserable. I am much more sensitive to mold than I ever thought! I will continue to collect their mail and water their plants, but I'm back with my friends' place because my own house has a mold overgrowth and I can't live there, either. Let's take a look at what happens when a certain bioengineering professor is exposed to mold (or dust, dust mites, cats, dogs and cockroaches)................

Click here to read about cells in an immediate hypersensitivity reaction (aka allergies) 

Wed, May 14, 2008 | link 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Got blood?

I have so many stories I could share about blood that I could probably talk your ear off (or is it blog your eyes out?  I don't know).  Today my theme is about blood related research--specifically menstrual blood being a good source of stem cells, transfusions not being as good as you might think and, of course, artificial blood. And I will tell about the giant football player who would NOT let the phlebotomist draw his blood!


If you are feeling generous one day, give blood!  As someone who has had a transfusion, I am always grateful for those people who donate blood.... 

click here to continue learning about the latest about blood stem cells and artificial blood

Wed, May 7, 2008 | link 

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