HSCI Science Update: April 2011

April 6, 2011

Not Just a Cushion: An Active Role for the Cerebrospinal Fluid

The cerebral cortex is the thin layer of nerve cells covering the brain, immediately adjacent to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in which it floats. This cushioning fluid provides mechanical and immunological protection to the brain inside the hard skull. But recent work from Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal Faculty Member Christopher Walsh and colleagues demonstrates that the CSF has a more active role than simply being a pillow for the brain; it also contains a library of proteins important to neuronal development...

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HSCI Science Update: March 2011

March 14, 2011

SCORE! – Genetics Scorecards Afford a New Generation of Stem Cell Screening Techniques

Embryonic stem (ES) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have the capacity to differentiate into any type of fetal or adult cell. They represent a powerful set of research tools with the potential to bring sweeping advances to the study of complex diseases, cell-based drug screenings, transplant medicine techniques, and other pressing medical applications. A better understanding of variation among these cells is necessary to fully harness their research potential, as is a manageable,...

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Doing the neuron tango

February 23, 2011

To an untrained observer, the electrical storm that takes place over the brain’s neural network seems a chaotic flurry of activity. But as neuroscientists understand it, the millions of neurons are actually engaged in a sort of tightly choreographed dance, a tango of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. How is this precise balance...

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HSCI Science Update: January 2011

January 28, 2011

Learning from Disease

While we often look to stem cell research models to help us better understand disease, new work by HSCI Principal Faculty member Bjorn Olsen, PhD, and colleagues takes the opposite approach. Their recent research explores a mechanism at play in the rare disease known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) that transforms endothelial cells into stem-like cells.  FOP is characterized by bone formation in areas outside of the skeleton. The researchers found a surprising source for these pathological bone and cartilage cells. Instead of originating...

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