Ernie Lively moved to a scenic home in the mountains of Wasatch County to escape the hectic pace of Hollywood when he retired.
The actor, who resides in Heber City with his wife Elain has credentials that include a long list of TV and film appearances, including Passenger 57 and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants —the latter that he starred in with his daughter, Blake.
But retirement didn’t provide Lively with the active lifestyle he craved because of simple reality: His heart was failing. He’d suffered a massive heart attack in 2003, which left him functioning on half a healthy heart. As time marched on, his ejection fraction —the measurement of the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts —continued to decline.
The amount of success in stem cell research and recent successes is notable.
GEN News Dec 5, 2013
Stem Cell Leaders Call for Human Embryome Project
Just as an international consortium was formed to map and sequence the human genome, now a group of stem cell and regenerative medicine scientists say it’s critical that such an effort be ramped up to do a similar project focused on the human embryome.
This was the key message of a panel discussion, “From Mapping the Genome to Mapping the Embryome: The Urgent Need for an International Initiative,” moderated by Michael West, Ph.D., CEO of Biotime. It took place at the World Stem Cell Summit, which is taking place this week in San Diego.
“It is becoming increasingly clear in regenerative medicine that pluripotent stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and IPs cells will be as…
Skeletal muscle – that type of voluntary muscle that allows movement – has proven difficult to grow in the laboratory. While particular cells can be differentiated into skeletal muscle cells, forming a coherent, structurally sound skeletal muscle is a tough nut to crack from a research perspective.
Another problem dogging muscle research is the difficulty growing new muscle in patients with muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy or other types of disorders that weaken and degrade skeletal muscle.
Now research groups at the Boston Children’s Hospital Stem Cell Program have reported that they can boost the muscle mass and even reverse the disease of mice that suffer from a type of murine muscular dystrophy. To do this, this group use a combination of three different compounds that were identified in a rapid culture system.
This ingenious rapid culture system uses the cells of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos to screen for these muscle-inducing compounds. These single cells are placed into the well of a 96-well plate, and then treated with various compounds to determine if those chemical induce the muscle formation. To facilitate this process, the zebrafish embryo cells express a very special marker that consists of the myosin light polypeptide 2 gene fused to a red-colored protein called “cherry.” When cells become muscle, they express the myosin light polypeptide 2 gene at high levels. Therefore, any embryo cell that differentiates into muscle should glow a red color.
Once a cocktail of muscle-inducing chemicals were identified in this assay, those same chemicals were used to treat induced pluripotent stem cells made from cells taken from patients with muscular dystrophy. Those iPSCs were treated with the combination of chemicals identified in the zebrafish embryo screen as muscle inducing agents.
The results were outstanding. Leonard Zon from the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and his colleagues showed that a combination of basic Fibroblast Growth Factor, an adenylyl cyclase activator called forskolin, and the GSK3β inhibitor BIO induced skeletal muscle differentiation in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Furthermore, these muscle cells produced engraftable myogenic progenitors that contributed to muscle repair when implanted into mice with a rodent form of muscular dystrophy.
Zon hopes that clinical trials can being soon in order to translate these remarkable results into patients with muscle loss within the next several years. Zon and his co-workers are also screening compounds to address other types of disorders beyond muscular dystrophy.
This paper represents the application of shear and utter genius. However, there is one caveat. The mice into which the muscles were injected were immunodeficient mice whose immune systems are unable to reject transplanted tissues. In human patients with muscular dystrophy, an immune response against dystrophin, the defective protein, has been an enduring problem (for a review of this, see T. Okada and S. Takeda, Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2013 Jun 27;6(7):813-836). While there have been some technological developments that might circumvent this problem, transplanting large quantities of muscle cells might be beyond the pale. Muscular dystrophy results from disruption of an important junction between the muscle and substratum to which the muscle is secured. This connection is mediated by the “dystrophin-glycoprotein complex.” Structural disruptions of this complex (shown below) lead to unanchored muscle that cannot contract properly, and eventually atrophies and degrades.
This is a remarkable advance, but until the host immune response issue is satisfactorily addressed, it will remain a problem.