Could a tiny fish hold the key to curing blindness?

Imagine this: A patient learns that they are losing their sight because an eye disease has damaged crucial cells in their retina. Then, under the care of their doctor, they simply grow some new retinal cells, restoring their vision.

Although science hasn’t yet delivered this happy ending, researchers are working on it – with help from the humble zebrafish. When a zebrafish loses its retinal cells, it grows new ones. This observation has encouraged scientists to try hacking the zebrafish’s innate regenerative capacity to learn how to treat human disease. That is why among the National Eye Institute’s 1,200 active research projects, nearly 80 incorporate zebrafish.

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Coaxing single stem cells into specialized cells

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have developed a unique method for precisely controlling the deposition of hydrogel, which is made of water-soluble polymers commonly used to support cells in experiments or for therapeutic purposes. The researchers noticed that their technique – which allows for the encapsulation of a single cell within a minute hydrogel droplet – can be used to coax bone marrow stem cells into specialized cells.

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New Collection of Rett Syndrome Stem Cells Available from Coriell Institute for Medical Research

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research has added a new collection of stem cells to its biobank offerings. The new collection is a result of a collaboration between Coriell and the Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) and consists of 10 lines of human induced pluripotent stem cells created from blood donated by individuals with Rett syndrome.

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Communication between Skeletal Muscle Stem Cells and Fibers Supports Muscle Growth in Mice

A new study suggests that communication between skeletal muscle cells and muscle fibers promotes muscle growth. Adult muscle stem cells, called satellite cells, release extracellular vesicles that are delivered to muscle fibers responsible for contraction, to promote this muscle growth. The first-of-its-kind study is published ahead of print in the journal Function.

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New Clues from Fruit Flies about the Critical Role of Sex Hormones in Stem Cell Control

In one of the first studies addressing the role of sex hormones’ impact on stem cells in the gut, scientists outline new insights showing how a steroidal sex hormone that is structurally and functionally similar to human steroid hormones drastically alters the way intestinal stem cells behave, ultimately affecting the overarching structure and function of this critical organ. The authors found that ecdysone, a steroid hormone produced by fruit flies, stimulates intestinal stem cell growth and causes the gut of the female fruit fly to grow in size, as well as other critical changes.

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