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Research Illuminates How Stem Cells May Work

from the San Francisco Chronicle

UC Berkeley scientists are a step closer to understanding how a series of molecular switches can turn on or off the regenerative power of stem cells that normally build new muscle tissue after it has been damaged.

The research, conducted on laboratory mice, is years away from practical therapies for human beings. Nevertheless, this latest work, published online Sunday by the journal Nature, provides insight into how scientists are dissecting, step-by-step, the processes that govern how stem cells work.

A goal of such research is to find ways to intervene and control these molecular switches—to improve healing and perhaps slow the effects of aging.

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PODCAST & VIDEO: 3D Printing Replacement Body Parts

Regenerative medicine, a fledgling field with the aim of regrowing parts from a person’s own cells, is being amplified with 3D-printing technology, which can now use organic materials to create scaffolds that cells need to grow into their final forms. Richard Wysk, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina State University, discusses the latest successes with this research, and the timeline for creating more complicated structures.

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