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National team of scientists peers into the future of stem cell biology
Date:12/9/2010

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Remarkable progress in understanding how stem cell biology works has been reported by a team of leading scientists, directed by experts at UC Santa Barbara. Their research has been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Stem cell biology is making waves around the world with great hope for the eventual repair of parts of the body. While many scientists see these breakthroughs as viable, there are hurdles that must be overcome, including the worrisome potential for introducing cancer when making a repair to an organ.

Significant interdisciplinary research in stem cells is being performed at UC Santa Barbara, by a team of neurobiologists and physicists, with assistance from scientists at Harvard Medical School, UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, and the Yale Stem Cell Center.

The paper is a collaboration between biology, physics, and engineering. The two first authors are Pierre Neveu, of the Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI) and UCSB's Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics (KITP); and Min Jeong Kye, of the NRI, MCDB, UCSB's Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.

An important concept in this research is pluripotency the ability of the human embryonic stem cell to differentiate or become almost any cell in the body, explained senior author Kenneth S. Kosik, professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology (MCDB). Kosik is also the Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research and co-director of the NRI. And, Kosik is a practicing physician specializing in Alzheimer's Disease.

"The beauty and elegance of stem cells is that they have these dual properties," said Kosik. "On the one hand, they can proliferate they can divide and renew. On the other hand, they can also transform themselves into any tissue in the body, any type of cell in the body."

Kosik said that scientists have learned that many cells in the body have the potential t
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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

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