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Posts tagged ‘Stem cell research’

Fighting cancer like an infection

Professors Irv Weissman and Ravi Majeti at Stanford University and Professor Paresh Vyas at the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit in Oxford, are working on an antibody from the Stanford investigators that enables the immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. They are now testing whether it’s safe and effective for use in people with blood cancer. In this week’s blog they tell us how they collaborated across the Atlantic to get public funding for a project that has led to a spin out with multiple backers and a promising clinical trial.

Immune cells start to recognise and destroy a tumour

What if we could make our immune system fight cancer like it fights infection?

These aren’t the only teams in the world grappling with that question but for Professor Irv Weissman and Professor Paresh Vyas, the solution feels tantalisingly close for patients with blood cancer. Read more

Single cell technology – an eye for detail

New technology is helping scientists study the secrets of single cells in more detail than ever before. Dr Roy Drissen at the  MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine tells Sylvie Kruiniger how single cell technology has helped them discover a previously unknown stage in blood cell development which may have implications for the future of leukaemia treatment.

Dr Roy Drissen holds a microfluidic chip. Photo: martinphelps.com

 

“Before Galileo invented the telescope, we could just see Jupiter. With the telescope, we saw that Jupiter had moons. That’s what single cell technology is doing for biology: where we used to think there was only one type of cell, we can now see several.” Read more

Giving the liver a new way to deal with paracetamol overdose

A study published today in Stem Cells Translational Medicine shows that microRNAs could be used to treat paracetamol overdose. Lead researcher Dr David Hay from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh spoke to Sylvie Kruiniger about his findings, made possible by growing and testing their own stem cell-derived liver cells.

Dr David HayWhy is it important to study paracetamol overdose?

Taken at recommended levels, paracetamol is usually safe, effective and is used widely in adults and children, either alone or in combination with other drugs.

However, it can damage the liver and the risk of liver damage increases with doses over the recommended levels. Each year we see around 200 deaths involving paracetamol (National Office for Statistics).

What happens in your liver when you take paracetamol?

When the liver processes a recommended dose of paracetamol, most of the drug is broken down by acid into water-soluble forms that can be passed in the urine or exported to the bile: this is called the sulfation pathway.

Around five per cent is turned into a toxin called N Acetyl-p-Benzo Quinone Imine (NAPQI). At this low level, the liver can clear the toxin with an antioxidant that reacts with NAPQI so it can be excreted in urine and bile. Read more