University of California Los Angeles

A trend over the past few years has been comparing embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells and reprogrammed adult cells (also known as iPS cells) to each other and to other cell types. The goal is to understand what the cells are, exactly, and and how they differ from each other. Eventually this information could help researchers learn which type of cell will be most effective for developing therapies, understanding diseases or drug screening.

One perplexing question in regenerative medicine is why the human heart muscle cells are unable to divide and multiply their numbers. If they could, maybe they'd be able to produce new heart cells to replace those lost after a heart attack. Newts and salamanders can do it, why can't we?

Last week's big news at CIRM was the election of Jonathan Thomas as the new governing board chair, as we announced late Wednesday night. He will be replacing Robert Klein, who has served the agency since its inception in 2004. Not that anyone can replace Klein, exactly, but Thomas seems eager to step in and start leading the agency.

Stem cell scientists at the University of Michigan and in Detroit have created two embryonic stem cell lines that contain disease-causing mutations: Hemophilia B, a hereditary condition in which the blood does not clot properly and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, an inherited disorder leading to degeneration of muscles in the foot, lower leg and hand.

When I was the editor of a national magazine for physicians, I told my writers to do any story they found on prostate issues, with our overwhelming male audience then, I knew those stories would get high readership scores. My readers back then would have loved today's news out of UCLA. The team there, led by CIRM grantee Owen Witte, found that the inhibition of a certain protein slowed the growth of an aggressive form of prostate cancer in animal models.