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Research Snapshot: Stem cells’ role in reprogramming the brain after a stroke

Continuing with Health Talk’s coverage of May Stroke Awareness Month, today we’ll take a closer look at an ongoing study that uses stems cells to reprogram the brain after a stroke.

In the wake of a stroke, neurons within the brain are damaged. Using stems cells and stem cell technology, researchers in the Val, V. Richard Zarling, Earl Grande Stroke and Stem Cell Laboratory, within the Department of Neurosurgery and the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, are exploring ways to replace and regenerate damaged neurons in the brain that will ultimately lead to functional improvement of those neurons.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: U of M researchers pinpoint efficient new method to produce cardiomyocytes

Each year, more people die worldwide from ischaemic heart disease than any other condition. This type of coronary artery disease is linked to a reduced blood supply to the heart.

Cardiac experts believe this type of heart disease happens because the cells that make up the heart muscle, cardiomyocytes, stop dividing and replenishing shortly after birth. A big push in research around this issue centers on creating cardiomyocytes to replace the cells failing within the heart, but because the body is no longer regenerating these naturally, they need to be developed by reprogramming other cells.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researchers find novel gene correction model for Epidermolysis Bullosa

A research team led by pediatric blood and marrow transplantation experts Mark Osborn, Ph.D. and Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D. from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, have discovered a remarkable new way to repair genetic defects in the skin cells of patients with the skin disease epidermolysis bullosa.

The findings, published today in the journal Molecular Therapy and highlighted in the most recent issue of Nature, represent the first time researchers been able to correct a disease-causing gene in its natural location in the human genome using engineered transcription activator-like effector nucleases.

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a skin disease caused by genetic mutations. Patients suffering from EB – primarily children – lack the proteins that hold the epidermis and dermis together, which leads to painful blistering and sores. The condition is often deadly. The University of Minnesota is an international leader in the treatment of EB and the research that has led to new treatment approaches.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Masonic Cancer Center researchers develop an improved process for natural killer cell production

A recent study led by researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, found a process for mass-producing human natural killer (NK) cells, white blood cells that are known for attacking malignant tumors, to make them available for clinical-scale use.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researchers utilize genetically corrected stem cells to spark muscle regeneration

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart Institute have combined genetic repair with cellular reprogramming to generate stem cells capable of muscle regeneration in a mouse model for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

The research, which provides proof-of-principle for the feasibility of combining induced pluripotent stem cell technology and genetic correction to treat muscular dystrophy, could present a major step forward in autologous cell-based therapies for DMD and similar conditions and should pave the way for testing the approach in reprogrammed human pluripotent cells from muscular dystrophy patients.

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beyond-minnesota

An honor and an opportunity: U of M researcher presents at Nobel Assembly

University of Minnesota researcher Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., received a high honor last month when he was invited to speak at the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Instituet in Sweden.

The Nobel Assembly is designed to give Nobel Committee members the opportunity to learn more about topics they believe will be transformative in the coming decade.

The June meeting attended by Tolar focused on all aspects of hematopoietic stem cells, from basic biology and laboratory research to immune reconstitution and novel cell use. Tolar was one of less than 30 researchers invited to participate.

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