USC researchers apply brainpower to understanding neural stem cell differentiation

By Cristy Lytal

How do humans and other mammals get so brainy? USC researcher Wange Lu, PhD, and his colleagues shed new light on this question in a paper published in Cell Reports on Oct. 24.

The researchers donned their thinking caps to explain how neural stem and progenitor cells differentiate into neurons and related cells called glia. Neurons transmit information through electrical and chemical signals; glia surround, support and protect neurons in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Glia do everything from holding neurons in place to supplying them with nutrients and oxygen, to protecting them from pathogens.

By studying early mouse embryo neural stem cells in a petri dish, Lu and his colleagues discovered that a protein called SMEK1 promotes the differentiation of neural stem and progenitor cells. At the same time, SMEK1 keeps these cells in check by suppressing their uncontrolled proliferation. Read More »

December 23rd, 2013|Announcements|


(Photo/Cristy Lytal) (Photo/Cristy Lytal)

The dessert tray and cheese platter seemed self-renewing at the first USC Stem Cell Social, held on Oct. 25 at the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. Nearly 100 guests toured the labs, viewed research posters, voted on their favorite scientific images and mingled with researchers and faculty at this public event hosted by USC Stem Cell and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in honor of Stem Cell Awareness Day. Read More »

November 20th, 2013|Announcements|

Cardiovascular symposium takes the pulse of current research

By Jennifer Jing and Cristy Lytal

Researchers addressed the leading cause of death in the United States at the Los Angeles Area Cardiovascular Research Symposium and Research Award Reception, which brought together the region’s cardiovascular specialists to examine the developmental origins of heart health and disease.

Held at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the event was the first meeting of its kind since 1997, when the American Heart Association (AHA) disbanded local chapters in favor of regional affiliates. Read More »

November 20th, 2013|Announcements|

Researchers at USC uncover new possibilities for sweat gland stem cells

By Marie Rippen

Sweat is important — without it, we would overheat and die. In a recent paper in the journal Public Library of Science One (PLOS ONE), USC faculty member Krzysztof Kobielak, MD, PhD, and a team of researchers explored the ultimate origin of this sticky, stinky but vital substance — sweat gland stem cells. Read More »

November 8th, 2013|Announcements|

USC researcher reveals how to better master stem cells’ fate

By Cristy Lytal

USC scientist Qi-Long Ying, PhD, MSc, and a team of researchers have long been searching for biotech’s version of the fountain of youth — ways to encourage embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) to endlessly self-renew, or divide to produce more stem cells.

In a pair of studies published in Nature Communications in September and in The EMBO Journal in August, Ying and his team revealed some of the ways that ESCs and EpiSCs retain their pluripotency, or ability to differentiate into virtually any kind of cell. Read More »

October 25th, 2013|Announcements|