“Stem cells are enormous help in improving scientific knowledge”

Carles Miquel Colell, coordinator of the Research and Innovation programme for the Generalitat’s Department of Health, is Chairman of the CMRB Ethics Committee (CEIC). Doctor of internal medicine by profession, he started off in the world of healthcare, proceeded to healthcare management, teaching, and currently, research coordination. Dr. Miquel explains the whys and wherefores of the CEIC of the CMRB. How long has the committee existed? In Spain in 2006, a unique approval mechanism was created to establish certain safeguards in the use of pre-embryos left over from in vitro fertilization for stem cell research. In particular, it is necessary … Continue reading “Stem cells are enormous help in improving scientific knowledge”

The extra finger of the chicken

The extra finger of the chicken In this image from the CMRB we can see the induction of an extra finger in the interdigital space of a chicken. This finger has grown thanks to a microsphere (the blue dot in the image) that is covered in Activin A, a molecule with the ability to form cartilage. The microsphere was introduced in the interdigital space of the chicken embryo when it was 5 days old. After incubating it for 3 more days, the Activin A has induced the formation of the finger. Continue reading The extra finger of the chicken

Learning about aging from induced stem cells

Research on human aging is a hot topic nowadays, due to a growing aging population and the consequent prevalence of aging-associated diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis or cardiovascular diseases. Researchers at the CMRB review  the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to study the fundamental mechanisms underlying aging in this article published in Current Opinion in Cell Biology. Indeed, hiPSC-based models of aging and aging-related diseases are facilitating the study of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying aging. For example, the use of iPSCs from patients with accelerated aging (like those with Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome) could recapitulate the aging process in … Continue reading Learning about aging from induced stem cells

The path to life of the zebrafish

The path to life of the zebrafish This picture of the department of Histology and Bioimaging of the CRMB shows different stages of Zebrafish embryonic development using a confocal laser microscope. The actin is stained red and in blue the yolk, which feeds the developing embryo. The phases are fist one cell, then two cells, four, and finally the result 48 hours after fertilization. Continue reading The path to life of the zebrafish

Little big fly

Little big fly In this photo taken by Cristina Morera Albert, of the CMRB, a house fly is observed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). This type of microscope uses electrons and electromagnetic lenses to “illuminate” a sample allowing visualising the sample in 3D at high magnification. In this case, we observe the compound eyes of the fly and its thorax, which is divided into three segments: prothorax, mesothorax and metathorax. The thorax is covered by hairs called bristles, which are always arranged in the same place and have a sensory function. One can also see the wings, which protrude … Continue reading Little big fly

Converting stem cells into gametes is the most difficult transformation

Cristina Eguizabal came from Cambridge, UK, to the CMRB two and a half years ago to try to get male haploid cells (spermatozoids) from human pluripotent stem cells. She uses both human embryonic cells (hES) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). The first are obtained through fertility clinics from unused fertilised embryos. The hES are isolated from the embryos and derived into cell lines at the Stem Cell Bank of the CMRB, on the 4th floor of the PRBB, where Eguizabal is working under the coordination of Anna Veiga. iPS cells, on the other hand, can be derived in vitro … Continue reading Converting stem cells into gametes is the most difficult transformation

Phosphorylase kinase PhKG1, a new target for anti-angiogenesis therapies

A team of researchers from the CMRB directed by Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte has discovered two novel inhibitors of the phosphorylase kinase subunit G1 (PhKG1) that has been identified for the first time to be involved in angiogenesis in vivo. Furthermore, they found that PhKG1 mRNA levels are elevated by more than two-fold in the majority of human tumors (breast, colon, kidney, lung, liver and thyroid), except in prostate cancer. The study was published in Oncogene. Pathological angiogenesis, the growth of microvessels from existing vasculature, is associated with tumor progression and is a pre-requisite of tumor growth and metastasis. Therefore, inhibitors … Continue reading Phosphorylase kinase PhKG1, a new target for anti-angiogenesis therapies

Regenerating broken hearts

Chris Jopling joined the CMRB as a postdoctoral research scientist in June 2007. Since then, he has been investigating heart regeneration in zebrafish. The technicians M. Carme Fabregat and Guillermo Suñé, as well as Veronika Sander, another postdoctoral researcher, collaborate with the English biochemist in this line of research. They are all trying to find out which genes are involved in heart regeneration in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. “You can cut off up to 20% of a ventricle of an adult fish, and in one month it is completely regenerated”, explains Jopling. Mammals are able to regenerate some tissues, such … Continue reading Regenerating broken hearts

Divide and conquer

Divide and conquer In this image by Cristina Morera from the CMRB, taken with a SP5 Leica confocal microscope, a mouse stem cell can be seen dividing. The DNA is highlighted in blue, the pluripotency marker Oct4 in red, and α-tubulin, one of the main components of cell cytoskeleton microtubules, in green. The α-tubulin enables the observation of the cell in metaphase, the stage of cell division where the pairs of chromosomes (blue) are aligned in the centre of the cell. Later, the chromosomes will be separated and divided between the two daughter cells by the mitotic spindle formed of … Continue reading Divide and conquer