Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Australia Biotech

Transparent Fish Lead to Stem Cell Research Breakthrough 33

brindafella (702231) writes Australian scientists have accidentally made one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research, by studying the transparent embryos of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). The fish can be photographed and their development studied over time, and the movies can be played backwards, to track back from key developmental stages to find the stem cell basis for various traits of the fish. This fundamental research started by studying muscles, but the blood stem cell breakthrough was a bonus. They've found out how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), among the most important stem cells found in blood and bone marrow, is formed. The scientists are based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. The research has been published in the Nature medical journal. This discovery could lead to the production of self-renewing stem cells in the lab to treat multiple blood disorders and diseases.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Transparent Fish Lead to Stem Cell Research Breakthrough

Comments Filter:
  • What happened to embryonic stem cells being the most important, and all the political battles over embryonic stem cell research funding?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Embryonic stem CELLS are still the "most important"... in that they can become any cell in the body.

      The big problem with Embryonic stem cells is that most people don't have them laying around to use in treatments, while adult stem cells are obtainable. Most 'practical' medical research is focused on using adult stem cells, as they can be extracted from the patient.

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:49AM (#47670869) Homepage Journal

        Actually, embryonic stem cell treatments--the few we've figured out--hardly work. They require immense timing of chemical signals, or else they simply turn cancerous.

        Pluripotent adult stem cells have been demonstrated to grow full tissue (such as layers of skin, kidney, etc.), and are theorized capable of producing full organs (whole kidneys, liver, heart). Bone marrow stem cells can be coaxed into producing a whole heart on a scaffold, i.e., by removing all muscle from a heart and seeding the connective tissue with some donor heart muscle and a pile of marrow stem cells. Growing the full organ independently is difficult; and growing an appropriate organ would present unique challenges (a scaffold organ grows into the size of the scaffold; a new organ would grow into a child's organ, which won't provide a heart for an adult body).

        Adult stem cells are often banked from umbilical cord and placenta for treating the child early in life. In adult life, we use drugs to stimulate the release of large amounts of bone marrow stem cells; this provides stem cells for chemotherapy recovery, as chemotherapy destroys all bone marrow. Both types have been used to regenerate damaged heart, spinal nerve column, bone marrow, and other tissues and organs. Stem cells rendered from the patient's blood also rapidly treat severe burns as a component of a spray-on tissue plasm (a slurry of material and marrow stem cells) that regenerates the destroyed skin without scarring.

        I was lampooning the huge political theater of embryonic stem cell research in the 2004 election cycle. The US is the only country with such minimal funding; yet even Russia only occasionally outputs an amusing, largely-faulty, academic hack. Russia makes large breakthroughs in adult stem cell treatments all the time, because such treatments are more viable and widely-applicable. The article makes such a big deal about HSCs because saying "stem cells" is played out, and we know "adult stem cells from bone marrow" already; wen need a new buzzword, and "embryonic" is a dead end without politics.

        • Isn't this like saying that it is worthless to study the precursor of a medicine, because only the final medicine is useful for treatment?

          • It's more like saying it's pointless to study the chemical structure of a Szechuan Button seed when deriving treatment from Szechuan Button leaves, flowers, roots, oils, and so on. The seed is starch, enzymes, and DNA; it derives the whole plant from a set of biological processes carried out during its entire life cycle.

            In short: it makes sense to study the growth of embryos in general, which can be done with mice or fish or, especially, fruit flies. It doesn't make sense to try and force embryonic st

            • But think of it like this: it is possible to coax cells to go backward in development; to create stem cells from differentiated cells. And it is possible to create any cell type (including adult stem cells) from embryonic stem cells. Combined, this would allow doctors to take whatever cells are convenient, convert them into whatever stem cell they need, and produce a treatment for you from your own cells. Even if not currently useful, embryonic stem cell research could end up very useful.

              That, and many peop

              • Yes, it creates a bi-directional chain. We've also got pluripotent cells (bone marrow stem cells can become 90% of anything), and the ability to tissue culture like we're propagating trees (heart, liver, kidney, etc.; although only the heart is problematic, as we can make liver from bone marrow cells).

                I'm a decisionary maximizer: given the low return of embryonic stem cell research and the huge coverage of adult stem cell research, I find it a huge waste of time to divert significant funds to embryonic

        • You may be a bit behind the most recent development. ES cells can be differentiated and substantially engraft into monkey hearts. See []. Can adult stem cells perform similarly well?
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      They've never been better.
  • Yeah, Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by avgjoe62 ( 558860 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:15AM (#47670643)
    We've all heard these "stem cell breakthrough" stories a thousand times over, but really, a breakthrough from studying transparent zebra fish? I'll believe it when I see it.
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      a breakthrough from studying transparent zebra fish? I'll believe it when I see it.

      I see what you did there.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        a breakthrough from studying transparent zebra fish? I'll believe it when I see it.

        I see what you did there.

        No, you didn't see it

  • The news here is not the zebrafish. This has been a model system for decades. The news is the origin of the stem cells. Calling zebrafish 'transparent fish' basically means the submitter has no clue or insults the audiences intelligence.

  • (Still) Only ten years away.
  • From man tunefs []:
    BUGS ....
              You can tune a file system, but you cannot tune a fish.


  • Given the increase in difficulty this will take the fishing world championships to a whole new level!
  • with your fish?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger