Scientists are growing billions of stem cells on the ISS to help humans travel to other planets

Scientists are shooting stem cells into space, hoping to make discoveries that help people on Earth

Scientists have put stem cells on the International Space Station to explore whether they will grow better in zero gravity.

These cells would potentially be able to generate nearly any other kind of cell, possibly unlocking the potential to make treatments for diseases while off-planet.

The experiment is the latest research project that involves shooting stem cells into space. Some, like this one, aim to overcome the terrestrial difficulty of mass producing the cells. Others explore how space travel impacts the cells in the body. And some help better understand diseases such as cancer.

“By pushing the boundaries like this, it’s knowledge and it’s science and it’s learning,” said Clive Svendsen, executive director of Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute.

Six earlier projects from the US, China and Italy sent up various types of stem cells — including his team’s study of the effects of microgravity on cell-level heart function, said Dr Joseph Wu of Stanford University, who directs the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. Dr Wu helped coordinate a series of programs on space-based stem cell research last year.

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Scientists aim to grow billions of stem cells aboard the International Space Station

This is the latest effort to overcome one of the key hurdles for widespread stem cell therapies.

By Chris Young

Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical in Los Angeles are investigating how to grow large batches of a specific type of stem cell.

Their mission has taken them orbital — to the International Space Station — and it could help unlock a whole host of stem cell therapies to combat deadly diseases.

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One of the researchers, Dhruv Sareen, even donated his own stem cells for the experiment, a press statement reveals. If all goes to plan, the scientists hope to eventually grow billions of stem cells in space.

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Time-Lapse Footage Shows Neural Stem Cells Grow in 3D Scaffolds

Watch as primordial neural cells dance across, grow into, and even move 3D scaffolds engineered to heal brain injury from stroke and other trauma. Decorating the scaffold with various nutrients and biochemical signals allow researchers to control what types of brain tissues they become. Credit: Katrina Wilson and Ken Kingery, Duke University.


Researchers at Duke University have captured days-long time-lapse videos of young neural cells moving and growing within a novel 3D synthetic biocompatible structure. By literally watching how the cells respond to natural biochemical signals embedded within the material, biomedical engineers hope to develop biogels that can repair and regrow brain tissue after a stroke or other trauma.

The results appear online June 22 in the journal Advanced Materials.

Repairing and regrowing brain tissue is a difficult task. Left to its own devices, the brain does not regenerate lost synapses, blood vessels or other structures after suffering an injury, such as from a stroke. Dead brain tissue is instead absorbed, leaving behind a cavity devoid of anything recognizable as healthy brain tissue.

But that hasn’t stopped researchers from trying to regenerate damaged brains anyway. One common approach used by biomedical engineers is to provide a new medium for the diverse pieces of brain tissue to move into, loaded with various nutrients and biological instructions to encourage growth.

While scientists in the field have historically reached for a homogenous, gelatinous biomaterial to support neural regrowth, Tatiana Segura, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, has developed a different approach. Her biomaterial built to encourage all types of healing and growth is made of millions of tiny gelatinous spheres packed together to form a stable scaffold.

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A Newly Discovered Type of Stem Cell Could Allow Scientists To Make Organs in a Dish

Traditionally, researchers create stem cells by either placing an embryo in a dish or employing molecules found in pluripotent cells to reprogram differentiated cells and create induced pluripotent cells. This new study explores other possibilities.

The University of Copenhagen researchers utilized a mouse model to discover an alternate path that some cells follow to build organs and used that information to exploit a new kind of stem cells as a possible supply of organs in a dish

Imagine being able to restore damaged organ tissue. Because stem cells have the incredible ability to create the cells of organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestine, that is what stem cell research is aiming to do. 

For many years, researchers have worked to duplicate the process by which embryonic stem cells develop into organs and other parts of the body. However, despite several attempts, it has proven to be incredibly challenging to get lab-grown cells to mature correctly. However, recent research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that they could have missed a crucial step and perhaps another kind of stem cell.

“Very simply put, a number of recent studies have attempted to make a gut from stem cells in a dish. We have found a new way to do this, a way that follows different aspects of what happens in the embryo. Here, we found a new route that the embryo uses, and we describe the intermediate stage that different types of stem cells could use to make the gut and other organs,” says Ph.D. student at Martin Proks, one of the primary authors of the study from Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine at the University of Copenhagen (reNEW).

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Researchers develop unique 3D printed system for harvesting stem cells from bioreactors

Modular 3D printed microfluidic system. Credit: Majid Warkiani et al. Bioresources and Bioprinting 2022.

Researchers have developed a unique 3D printed system for harvesting stem cells from bioreactors, offering the potential for high quality, wide-scale production of stem cells in Australia at a lower cost.

Stem cells offer great promise in the treatment of many diseases and injuries, from arthritis and diabetes to cancer, due to their ability to replace damaged cells. However, current technology used to harvest stem cells is labor intensive, time consuming and expensive.

Biomedical engineer Professor Majid Warkiani from the University of Technology Sydney led the translational research, in collaboration with industry partner Regeneus—an Australian biotechnology company developing stem cell therapies to treat inflammatory conditions and pain.

“Our cutting-edge technology, which uses 3D printing and microfluidics to integrate a number of production steps into one device can help make stem cell therapies more widely available to patients at a lower cost,” said Professor Warkiani.

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New protocol can develop safe, efficient pluripotent stem cell-based therapies for macular degeneration

by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.

As we age, so do our eyes; most commonly, this involves changes to our vision and new glasses, but there are more severe forms of age-related eye problems. One of these is age-related macular degeneration, which affects the macula -; the back part of the eye that gives us sharp vision and the ability to distinguish details. The result is a blurriness in the central part of our visual field.

The macula is part of the eye’s retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue mostly composed of the eye’s visual cells: cone and rod photoreceptor cells. The retina also contains a layer called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which has several important functions, including light absorption, cleaning up cellular waste, and keeping the other cells of the eye healthy.

The cells of the RPE also nourish and maintain the eye’s photoreceptor cells, which is why one of the most promising treatment strategies for age-related macular degeneration is to replace aging, degenerating RPE cells with new ones grown from human embryonic stem cells.

Scientist have proposed several methods for converting stem cells into RPE, but there is still a gap in our knowledge of how cells respond to these stimuli over time. For example, some protocols take a few months while others can take up to a year. And yet, scientists are not clear as to what exactly happens over that period of time.

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Jab inside your ear to restore hearing! New drug prompts stem cells to grow into hair-like cilia cells to reverse hearing loss

By ALICE JAFFE

A gel that’s injected into the ear could reverse hearing loss. Called FX-322, the one-off jab works by encouraging dormant stem cells inside the ear to grow into healthy new auditory cells capable of transmitting sounds to the brain.

Stem cells are immature cells found throughout the body, and many have the capacity to grow into virtually any type of tissue.

The new drug prompts these dormant cells to grow into cilia. These tiny hair-like cells pick up sounds and turn them into electrical impulses that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain for processing.

Around 11 million people in the UK are affected by hearing loss, eight million of whom are aged 60 or older. Short-term hearing loss can occur as a result of ear infections or wax build-up.

Stem cells are immature cells found throughout the body, and many have the capacity to grow into virtually any type of tissue. The new drug prompts these dormant cells to grow into cilia

But while this is treatable, hearing loss due to damage to the cilia — for example, from repeated exposure to loud noise or changes in the inner ear as we age — is largely untreatable because the cells cannot repair themselves.

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Chinese experts first make human stem cell via chemical reprogramming

Chinese scientists have translated human somatic cells back into pluripotent stem cells with chemical molecules. /CFP

Chinese scientists have translated human somatic cells back into pluripotent stem cells, an “adult” version of early embryonic cells, using chemical molecules.

A group of researchers led by Deng Hongkui from Peking University reported finding the chemical cellular reprogramming technique for the first time ever.

The technique can be developed into universal knowhow on how to efficiently cultivate human cells of various functions, offering new possibilities for treating critical illnesses, the researchers said.

Previously, the cell-intrinsic components, including oocyte cytoplasm and transcription factors, were used to reprogram cells in human tissue or organs into pluripotent stem cells that can propagate to give rise to every other cell type in the body.

Inspired by how lower animals like axolotl regenerate its limb, the researchers demonstrated that the highly differentiated human somatic cells could experience plastic changes, triggered by certain chemical molecules, according to the study published recently in the journal Nature.

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Blood stem cells treat brain disease after transplant

By Anette Breindl

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a method to efficiently replace microglia, which are brain-specific immune cells, via a modified bone marrow transplant.

They used their approach to ameliorate a mouse model of prosaposin deficiency, an early-onset neurodegenerative disorder that is an atypical form of the lysosomal storage disorder Gaucher disease.

“We have developed a protocol, a way, to essentially replace all microglia in the brain with very similar cells, [and] We have shown that this replacement can be used for a therapeutic application,” Marius Wernig told BioWorld. “By using genetically normal cells, you can rectify the problem. Cure is too much of a word, but certainly treat.”

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Researchers produce fully functional pancreatic beta cells from stem cells for the first time

Beta cells (green) produce the hormone insulin.

by  University of Helsinki

Insulin is a vital hormone produced by pancreatic beta cells. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of these cells, which results in patients having to replace the lost insulin with multiple daily injections.

Insulin secretion can be restored in diabetic patients by transplanting beta cells isolated from the pancreas of a brain dead organ donor. However, this treatment has not been widely introduced, since cells from at least two donors are needed to cure one diabetic.

For a long time, attempts have been made to produce functional beta cells from stem cells, which could make this treatment increasingly common. However, the beta cells produced from stem cells have so far been immature, with poorly regulated insulin secretion. This may be a partial explanation for why no breakthroughs have been achieved in the clinical trials based on immature cells ongoing in the United States.

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Israeli study: Stem cells may help multiple sclerosis brain ‘repair itself’

Eight of 15 patients who receive NG-01 therapy as spinal injection see better disability scores; inventors say therapy may ‘dramatically improve’ patients’ lives

By NATHAN JEFFAY

A new Israeli stem cell therapy, intended to make the brain of multiple sclerosis sufferers “repair itself,” has shown promise in a small clinical trial, with several patients experiencing hopeful biological changes and reduced disability.

NeuroGenesis, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, tested its personalized NG-01 therapy on patients, administering it in two different ways. An intravenous injection had some effect, but doctors observed particularly positive changes among patients who received an injection into the spinal cord fluid.

Of the 15 patients who received spinal injections, nine subsequently experienced a drop in levels of neurofilament light chain (NfL), a protein that is heightened among MS patients as disability progresses. In a control group that received placebo injections, only one of the 15 patients experienced such a drop.

Of the nine patients who received the therapy as a spinal injection and had reduced NfL levels, all but one went on to have improved disability scores, even 12 months later when the research finished. The study has been peer-reviewed and published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

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Newly Discovered Stem Cell Resembles Cells in Early Human Embryo

Researchers from the Reik lab have today published their latest work describing a new subset of human embryonic stem cells that closely resemble the cells present at the genomic ‘wake up call’ of the 8-cell embryo stage in humans. This new stem cell model will allow researchers to map out the key genomic changes during early development, and  help move towards a better understanding of the implications of genome activation errors in developmental disorders and embryo loss.

In all mammals, the early embryo undergoes a number of molecular events just after fertilisation that set the stage for the rest of development. During this key ‘wake up call’ the genome of the embryo takes over control of the cell’s activities from the maternal genome. In humans, this happens at the 8-cell stage and is called zygotic genome activation (ZGA). 

Before the findings of this study, investigating the details of human ZGA could only be done in human embryos; existing human stem cell models represented the embryo only at later stages of the developmental process. In the UK, experiments using embryos are permitted but highly regulated, meaning that research into early development relied in part on alternative, non-human models.

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