Month Archives: September 2011

Green Fluorescent Kitty to Study Disease

by David Prentice

September 12, 2011

Hard to lose this kitty in the dark, since it fluoresces a green color. Mayo clinic researchers have created a transgenic cat, genetically engineered to glow green. They used a technique called gamete-targeted lentiviral transgenesis, inserting genes into cat oocytes before fertilization with normal sperm. This was the first time the technique had succeeded with a carnivore. Besides inserting the GFP (green fluorescent protein) gene, which was actually used for tracking purposes, they also inserted a gene from rhesus monkeys—TRIMCyp—that is a “restriction factor”, known to block Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), the feline equivalent of the human AIDS virus (HIV). When some of the kittens glowed green, it was evidence that the FIV-blocking gene had been successfully transferred. The successful gene transfer was also verified by the ability of the transgenic cats to pass on their glowing personality to their offspring (F1 generation), showing that the transferred genes were present in the germline.

According to researchers, cats are valuable models for the study of numerous human conditions. This line of cats will help studies related to FIV and HIV infection. Initial tests already show that the blood cells of the transgenic cats are resistant to growth of the FIV virus.

Previous attempts to generate genetically-engineered cats tried to use cloning techniques (somatic cell nuclear transfer; SCNT), but the authors note in relation to SCNT cloning:

However, the efficiency of animal cloning is extremely low, and SCNT results in faulty epigenetic reprogramming in most embryos. Cloned mammals with apparently normal gross anatomy can have many abnormalities resulting from failure to erase and reprogram epigenetic memory completely.”

In short, SCNT cloning has been an abysmal failure. But the technique used by the Mayo Clinic scientists is supposedly much better. According to senior author Dr. Eric Poeschla:

The 23% success rate is much higher than the typical 3% seen with somatic cell nuclear transfer. Almost all of our pregnancies were transgenic, and that efficiency is important so you dont have to extensively screen these large animals. The really great thing is that the animals were healthy and fertile and their kittens were healthy.

The article is published in the journal Nature Methods.

Note that is not the first green fluorescent cat; Mr. Green Genes made his debut in October 2008. And will the green-fluorescent cat be chased by the red-fluorescent dog?

A different 9/11

by FRC Media Office

September 12, 2011

FRCs historian, Bob Morrison, provides some background for first battle of the Stars and Stripes on the American Thinker blog:

September 11th has an important meaning for all of us as Americans, quite apart from 9/11. And it’s one that should shape our reaction to those terrorist attacks. September 11, 1777 is reliably reported to have been the first time the Stars and Stripes were carried into battle. It was at Brandywine Creek, in Pennsylvania.

Read the rest at American Thinker.

Listen to FRC’s Henry Potrykus on Family Policy Matters

by FRC Media Office

September 9, 2011

Henry Potrykus, Ph.D., senior fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at FRC was recently interviewed by North Carolina Family Policy Council President Bill Brooks on his radio show, “Family Policy Matters” this week. Henry discussed his new report, “Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, or Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage.”

Click below to listen to the interview:

Henry Potrykus on Family Policy Matters

Grow Your Own Transfusion with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

September 9, 2011

Scientists have shown for the first time that cultured red blood cells can be grown in the lab from adult stem cells and injected successfully into a human. While embryonic stem cells produce only unsuitable, immature cells, with rejection and uncontrolled tumor growth remaining a concern as well, by contrast adult stem cells can efficiently produce healthy, safe cells for transfusion.

French scientists took hematopoietic stem cells (HSC’s; the adult stem cells that form all blood cells) from a human donor and from those cells, generated billions of “cultured red blood cells” (cRBC’s) in the laboratory. They first tested the function of the cells by injection into mice, showing that the lab-generated cells were able to mature fully.

Then they took adult stem cells from a human volunteer donor, made more cells in the lab, and injected ten billion cells back into the human donor. The cells survived and functioned comparable to normal red blood cells.

Dr. Luc Douay, senior study author, noted:

Although previous research has shown that HSCs can be developed into fully matured red blood cells, this is the first study that has proven that they are capable of survival in the human body, a major breakthrough for the transplant community. The results from our study establish the feasibility of the concept of transfusing cRBCs and show promise that an unlimited blood reserve is within reach. Although the full-scale production of these cells will require additional technological advances in cell engineering, we believe cRBCs could prove to be a valid alternative to classic transfusion products that will not only provide an adequate supply of blood, but reduce the risk of life-threatening complications and infections that can accompany traditional transfusion.”

The study was published online in the journal Blood.

Human Colon Adult Stem Cells Identified and Grown in Lab

by David Prentice

September 9, 2011

An international research team has become the first to isolate and grow adult stem cells from human colon. Scientists have long known that throughout life, adult stem cells of the colon regenerate the inner layer of our large intestine on a weekly basis. But it has previously been impossible to grow these adult stem cells successfully in the laboratory. Working together, scientists from Spain, Japan, and the Netherlands have established the conditions to maintain living human colon stem cells (CoSCs) outside of the human body long-term: According to first author Peter Jung:

This is the first time that it has been possible to grow single CoSCs in lab-plates and to derive human intestinal stem cell lines in defined conditions in a lab setting. Now we can maintain stem cells in a plate up to 5 months or we can induce these cells to differentiate artificially, as they do inside our bodies. This achievement opens up an exciting new area of research with the potential to bring about a huge breakthrough in regenerative medicine,”

According to Jung, the main elements for making regenerative medicine a reality, namely adult stem cells, are just starting to be understood. The ability to grow and study colon stem cells in the lab may lead to insights regarding numerous intestinal diseases, including Crohn’s disease. The report is publshed in the journal Nature Medicine.

Neighbors Keep Brain Adult Stem Cells Young

by David Prentice

September 9, 2011

Duke University scientists have unraveled the controls in the brain that produce new neurons from adult stem cells throughout life. Using a mouse model, they found that the neural stem cells’ neighbors, called “ependymal cells”, are important in providing an environment that keeps neural stem cells young and able to continually make new neurons.

The scientists discovered that a sequence of events made the neighborhood, or stem cell “niche”, conducive to neuron production. The sequence started with the neighbors, the ependymal cells. A protein called Foxj1, which turns on specific genes in cells, turned on a structural protein called Ankyrin in the ependymal cells, and subsequently these support cells formed an interlaced pinwheel-like architecture surrounding the adult neural stem cells. The structural support including as-yet-unidentified signals instructs neural stem cells to continue neuron production.

Dr. Chay Kuo, senior author on the research study published in the journal Neuron, said:

”There is this fountain of youth inside the adult brain that actively makes new neurons. We believe these findings will have important implications for human therapy.”

Adult Stem Cells from Fat Used to Grow New Bone, Prevent Amputation

by David Prentice

September 9, 2011

Susan Cossabone is growing new leg bone thanks to adult stem cells. She was in a terrible head-on collision, and thought her injured leg would have to be amputated.

I thought I would lose the leg. If you could have seen it when they cut off my favorite jeans — you could just see bones sticking and flesh. You couldn’t see much of a leg.”

But world-renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson of Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center used adult stem cells to help regrow the bone in her leg, and now she is beginning to walk again.

Sites for the approved clinical trial include Baltimore, MD, Grand Rapids, MI, and Edina, MN (see the link for details.)

Hair-Raising Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

September 8, 2011

A new report suggests that stimulating adult stem cells might treat baldness, growing hair on heads that are bare. Previous work has shown that adult stem cells are still present in the hair follicles of the skin of bald men, in the follicle roots, but the stem cells have lost the ability to begin hair regeneration. Hair follicle stem cells need signals from within the skin to grow hair, but the source of those signals has been unclear until now.

Yale researchers used a mouse model to show that hair regeneration requires a type of stem cell, an adipose precursor, that forms new skin fat cells. These stem cells also produce a molecule called PDGF (platelet-derived growth factor) that stimulates other skin stem cells for hair growth. Senior author Valerie Horsley said:

If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again.”

The results are published in the journal Cell.

The Social Conservative Review: The Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News—September 8, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

September 8, 2011

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.

Dear Friends,

America’s Founders believed that unless public leaders are persons of high character, they will be motivated by self-interest. This fosters cynicism among citizens, who then become disengaged from the political sphere and all the more vulnerable to political abuse by those in power.

Theologian David Wells describes virtue as having both private and public dimensions: First, virtue is “the domain of character, the practice of private virtue, such as honesty, decency, the telling of truth, and all the other kinds of moral obligation.”

Second, says Wells, there is “the domain of public virtue, such as civic duty, social responsibility, philanthropy, the articulation of great ideals and good policies.”

The Founders of our country believed that “the domain of public virtue” was essential to the success of political self-government through representative democracy. Only if citizens are persons of virtue will they govern their own behavior with sufficient wisdom to live in a just and free society. And only if they possess personal virtue will they elect persons whose own moral caliber is sufficient to ensure that integrity and wisdom are applied to public policy decisions.

Without virtue, there can be no political liberty,” wrote an aged John Adams to his friend Thomas Jefferson in 1819. That was true at the founding of our Republic, and is no less true today.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. Urge retailers to resist pressure to discriminate against customers with a traditional and biblical view of marriage.

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To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

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