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What’s the Stem Cells Buzz this Week? – Reprogramming Keratinocytes, MSC Immunosuppression Loss, Targeting Gastric CSCs, and SKP-mediated Corneal Regeneration!

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A roundup of some the recent stories in the ever-changing world of stem cells and regenerative medicine

Reprogramming Keratinocytes into Neural Crest Cells

Neural crest cells can give rise to a wide range of cells including melanocytes, craniofacial cartilage and bone, smooth muscle, peripheral and enteric neurons, and glia, and so may be of use for regenerative therapies. Now, in a new Stem Cells study, the lab of Stelios Andreadis (University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA) has demonstrated how FGF2 and IGF1 signaling converts postnatal human epidermal keratinocytes, a common cell type, into neural crest cells that resemble those derived from human embryonic stem cells. Cool study!

MSCs: Losing their Immunosuppressive Potential via IDO

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) display immunosuppressive properties that make them of great interest in the treatment of a wide range of diseases/disorders. However, the in vitro expansion required to reach significant cell numbers leads to replicative senescence and a loss of function. But why?! The lab of Karin Tarte (INSERM U917, Rennes, France) now demonstrates that this loss of function correlates to decreased STAT-1-dependent indoleamine-2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) activity in response to inflammatory stimuli. This is due to specific degradation of IDO, although this new Stem Cells study suggests that proteasome inhibitor treatment may extend MSCs functionality.

Targeting Gastric Cancer Stem Cells with Gamma-Secretase Inhibitor IX

Eradicating cancer stem cells (CSCs) represents a promising strategy to battle many different types of cancer. Many have sought to find drugs that target CSCs, and such a strategy has allowed the lab of Ruben R. Plentz (Medical University Hospital, Tübingen, Germany) to construct a potential treatment for gastric cancers. Specifically, Barat et al demonstrated that gamma-secretase inhibitor IX (GSI) treatment targeted gastric CSCs and inhibited Notch and Wnt-beta-catenin signaling pathways. See Stem Cells Translational Medicine for all the fine print.

Regenerating the Cornea with SKPs

Corneal blindness is currently treated by allogenic corneal transplantation. This treatment option suffers from severe shortages of transplantable material, and so, the lab of Shigeto Shimmura (Keio University, Tokyo, Japan) sought to find out whether skin-derived precursors (SKPs), a neural crest cell type, could be of use. Excitingly, mouse and human SKPs differentiated into cells resembling corneal endothelium and mouse cells transplanted into a rabbit model of bullous keratopathy maintained corneal thickness and transparency. See this great new study over at Stem Cells Translational Medicine now!

So that’s a wrap for this week! Please let us know your views on all the stories we have covered here on the Stem Cells Buzz, and please let us know if we have missed anything interesting! Happy reading!