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Gut Stem Cell Numbers Depend on Retrograde Motion and Location

New research using intravital microscopy reveals a new mechanism that regulates the number of effective stem cells in different regions along the gut. In addition to passive cellular movement directed out of the intestinal crypts, the study shows stem cells also move actively in random directions, in and out of the crypts. The active process of retrograde movement of stem cells described in the study uncovers a new route of experimentally and pharmacologically regulating stem cells in different parts of the intestines.

Blood Precursor Cell Requiring Retinoic Acid Identified

A new study reveals how the human embryo develops precursors of blood-forming stem cells. The new method, the researchers said, can be used to generate blood-forming stem cells from human pluripotent stem cells in tissue culture. In earlier studies, researchers have obtained hemogenic epithelium from hPSCs, but these cells do not produce hematopoietic stem cells. This study has identified a way to obtain blood progenitors that require retinoic acid, a key biological requirement for their development and a critical first step to deriving HSCs in tissue culture.

Human and Chimp Brains Differ in Non-Coding Regulatory DNA

Stem cell researchers at the Lund University, Germany, identify ZNF558, a transcription factor expressed in human but not chimpanzee forebrain progenitors cells, that regulates mitochondrial function and determines the timing of early human brain development. The authors show this transcription factor regulates a gene called SPATA18 that regulates the selective degradation of mitochondria. The expression of ZNF558 is controlled by the size of a structural repeat in noncoding DNA that is longer in chimpanzees than in humans. The study provides evidence of a role for DNA structural variations in human brain evolution and may contribute to genetics-based answers to questions about psychiatric disorders that are unique to humans.

New Therapy Targets Aggressive Chemotherapy-Resistant Breast Cancer

Scientists have identified a new multi-kinase inhibitor that targets breast cancer stem cells in chemotherapy-resistant triple negative breast cancer. TNBC disproportionately affects younger, premenopausal women, women with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 gene, and Black women. The new therapy holds the potential to improve survival and quality of life for patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer who are currently treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy that is largely ineffective.

New Stem Cell Derived from Mice, Horses, and Humans

A new type of intermediate-stage stem cell, isolated from mice, horses and humans, is endowed with the unique dual potency of being able to form inter- and intra-species chimeras, and to generate precursors of sperm and ova.