The Next Regeneration

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Stem cells have two key characteristics. They are able to self-renew and they can differentiate into mature cells of different lineages. These two properties allow stem cells to repair and regenerate tissues and organs. Stem cells also form the corner-stone of tissue engineering. The underlying biological mechanisms that regulate stem cell function and self-renewal are fairly complex and our knowledge of remains very limited.The field of stem cell research has generated a lot of enthusiasm, but this enthusiasm can at times skew the interpretation of the actual scientific findings. I believe that the hope of being able to regenerate or rejuvenate tissues taps into the old human quest for immortality. This may be the reason why I often come across reports and discussions suggesting that stem cell therapies have a miracle-like quality and will soon be able to cure most diseases. While the ground-breaking discoveries in stem cell biology are indeed fascinating, it is also important to have a realistic view of stem cell therapies and realize that much of stem cell biology is still in its infancy. Premature attempts to use stem cells for clinical therapies are probably not going to succeed. This blog will focus on novel developments in stem cell research, regenerative biology and medicine as well as the topic of aging. The ethical and political issues that revolve around stem cell research will also be discussed. I am also interested in broader questions related to the process of scientific discovery, creativity and scientific communication, which will be addressed in some of the posts.

Jalees Rehman
39 posts

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  • July 20, 2015
  • 10:00 AM
  • 83 views

How Viruses Feign Death to Survive and Thrive

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

During the past decade, multiple groups of researchers have come across a fascinating phenomenon by which viruses hijack the phagocytosis process in order to thrive. One of the "Eat Me!" signals for phagocytes is that debris derived from an apoptotic cell is coated by a membrane enriched with phosphatidylserines which are negatively charged molecules. Phosphatidylserines are present in all cells but they are usually tucked away on the inside of cells and are not seen by other cells. Wh........ Read more »

Amara A, & Mercer J. (2015) Viral apoptotic mimicry. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 13(8), 461-9. PMID: 26052667  

  • June 25, 2015
  • 12:43 PM
  • 147 views

The Long Shadow of Nazi Indoctrination: Persistence of Anti-Semitism in Germany

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Voigtländer and Voth examined the results of the large General Social Survey for Germany (ALLBUS) in which several thousand Germans were asked about their values and beliefs. The survey took place in 1996 and 2006, and the researchers combined the results of both surveys with a total of 5,300 participants from 264 German towns and cities. The researchers were specifically interested in anti-Semitic attitudes and focused on three survey questions specifically related to anti-Semitism. Survey........ Read more »

Voigtländer N, & Voth HJ. (2015) Nazi indoctrination and anti-Semitic beliefs in Germany. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26080394  

  • April 28, 2015
  • 09:40 AM
  • 300 views

Murder Your Darling Hypotheses But Do Not Bury Them

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

There is surprisingly little data on how and when scientists reject hypotheses, but John Fugelsang and Kevin Dunbar at Dartmouth conducted a rather unique study "Theory and data interactions of the scientific mind: Evidence from the molecular and the cognitive laboratory" in 2004 in which they researched researchers. They sat in at scientific laboratory meetings of three renowned molecular biology laboratories at carefully recorded how scientists presented their laboratory data and how........ Read more »

Fugelsang, J., Stein, C., Green, A., & Dunbar, K. (2004) Theory and Data Interactions of the Scientific Mind: Evidence From the Molecular and the Cognitive Laboratory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 58(2), 86-95. DOI: 10.1037/h0085799  

  • March 31, 2015
  • 05:45 AM
  • 294 views

African-Americans Receive Heart Transplants at Hospitals With Poor Performance Track Records

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

About five million people in the US suffer from heart failure, and approximately half of them die within five years of being diagnosed. Only about 2,500 hundred people a year receive a heart transplant – the treatment of last resort. A new heart can be life-saving, but it is also life-changing. Even under the best conditions, the surgery is complex, and recovery carries a heavy physical and emotional burden.
... Read more »

  • March 9, 2015
  • 08:58 AM
  • 414 views

“She’s strong for a girl”: The Negative Impact of Stereotypes About Women

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

We have all heard the stereotypes: women can’t drive, they don’t understand computers, and how many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb? But those are all in good fun, right? But what if gender stereotypes actually bring about the observed differences between men and women that supposedly underline these stereotypes? A recent study by the psychologist Marina Pavlova at the University of Tübingen tested this idea.... Read more »

Pavlova, M., Weber, S., Simoes, E., & Sokolov, A. (2014) Gender Stereotype Susceptibility. PLoS ONE, 9(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114802  

  • February 9, 2015
  • 09:22 AM
  • 313 views

Literature and Philosophy in the Laboratory Meeting

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Research institutions in the life sciences engage in two types of regular scientific meet-ups: scientific seminars and lab meetings. The structure of scientific seminars is fairly standard. Speakers give Powerpoint presentations (typically 45 to 55 minutes long) which provide the necessary scientific background, summarize their group's recent published scientific work and then (hopefully) present newer, unpublished data. Lab meetings are a rather different affair. The purpose of a lab meeti........ Read more »

  • January 16, 2015
  • 06:10 AM
  • 455 views

Fixing ‘Leaky’ Blood Vessels in Severe Respiratory Ailments and Ebola

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

When you get an infection, your immune system responds with an influx of inflammatory cells that target the underlying bacteria or viruses. These immune cells migrate from your blood into the infected tissue in order to release a cocktail of pro-inflammatory proteins and help eliminate the infectious threat.

During this inflammatory response, the blood vessel barrier becomes “leaky.” This allows for an even more rapid influx of additional immune cells. Once the infection resolves,........ Read more »

Gong, H., Rehman, J., Tang, H., Wary, K., Mittal, M., Chatturvedi, P., Zhao, Y., Komorova, Y., Vogel, S., & Malik, A. (2015) HIF2α signaling inhibits adherens junctional disruption in acute lung injury. Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI77701  

  • January 5, 2015
  • 03:02 PM
  • 487 views

Typical Dreams: A Comparison of Dreams Across Cultures

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Have you ever wondered how the content of your dreams differs from that of your friends? How about the dreams of people raised in different countries and cultures? It is not always easy to compare dreams of distinct individuals because the content of dreams depends on our personal experiences. This is why dream researchers have developed standardized dream questionnaires in which common thematic elements are grouped together. These questionnaires can be translated into various languages and used........ Read more »

Nielsen, T., Zadra, A., Simard, V., Saucier, S., Stenstrom, P., Smith, C., & Kuiken, D. (2003) The Typical Dreams of Canadian University Students. Dreaming, 13(4), 211-235. DOI: 10.1023/B:DREM.0000003144.40929.0b  

Schredl M, Ciric P, Götz S, & Wittmann L. (2004) Typical dreams: stability and gender differences. The Journal of psychology, 138(6), 485-94. PMID: 15612605  

  • December 8, 2014
  • 08:02 AM
  • 586 views

Climate Change: Heatwaves and Poverty in Pakistan

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

In the summer of 2010, over 20 million people were affected by the summer floods in Pakistan. Millions lost access to shelter and clean water, and became dependent on aid in the form of food, drinking water, tents, clothes and medical supplies in order to survive this humanitarian disaster. It is estimated that at least $1.5 billion to $2 billion were provided as aid by governments, NGOs, charity organizations and private individuals from all around the world, and helped contain the devastating ........ Read more »

  • October 20, 2014
  • 04:21 PM
  • 594 views

Moral Time: Does Our Internal Clock Influence Moral Judgments?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Does morality depend on the time of the day? The study "The Morning Morality Effect: The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior" published in October of 2013 by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith suggested that people are more honest in the mornings, and that their ability to resist the temptation of lying and cheating wears off as the day progresses. In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and Smith found that moral awareness and self-control in their study subjects decreased in the........ Read more »

  • October 13, 2014
  • 07:59 AM
  • 493 views

The Psychology of Procrastination: How We Create Categories of the Future

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

A fully rational approach to task completion would involve creating a priority list of tasks based on a composite score of task importance and the remaining time until the deadline. The most important task with the most proximate deadline would have to be tackled first, and the lowest priority task with the furthest deadline last. This sounds great in theory, but it is quite difficult to implement. A substantial amount of research has been conducted to understand how our moods, distractability a........ Read more »

  • September 17, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 586 views

Builders and Blocks – Engineering Blood Vessels with Stem Cells

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Back in 2001, when we first began studying how regenerative cells (stem cells or more mature progenitor cells) enhance blood vessel growth, our group as well as many of our colleagues focused on one specific type of blood vessel: arteries. Arteries are responsible for supplying oxygen to all organs and tissues of the body and arteries are more likely to develop gradual plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) than veins or networks of smaller blood vessels (capillaries). Once the amount of plaque in an........ Read more »

Paul JD, Coulombe KL, Toth PT, Zhang Y, Marsboom G, Bindokas VP, Smith DW, Murry CE, & Rehman J. (2013) SLIT3-ROBO4 activation promotes vascular network formation in human engineered tissue and angiogenesis in vivo. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 124-31. PMID: 24090675  

  • July 22, 2014
  • 01:48 PM
  • 607 views

Fasting Improves Recovery of Bone Marrow Stem Cells after Chemotherapy

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Fasting is defined as either completely abstaining from or minimizing food intake for a defined period time - ranging from about 12 hours to even a few weeks. Calorie restriction, on the other hand, refers to an overall reduction in the daily calorie intake by about 20%-40% without necessarily reducing the meal intake frequency. Although calorie restriction is well-suited for weight loss and thus also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, proponents of fasting c........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2014
  • 11:50 AM
  • 682 views

Turning Off Inflammation: A Novel Anti-Inflammatory Switch in Macrophages

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Macrophages are important immune cells which regulate inflammation, host defense and also act as a 'clean-up crew'. They recognize, kill and engulf bacteria as well as cellular debris, which is generated during an acute infection or inflammation. As such, they are present in nearly all tissues of the body, engaging in 24/7 surveillance. Some macrophages in a tissue are derived from circulating blood monocytes which migrate into the tissue and become "phagocytic" - acquire to ........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2014
  • 01:38 PM
  • 691 views

Does Reading ‘Moral’ Stories to Children Promote Honesty?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

All over the world, young children are exposed to classic fairy tales, myths and other stories. Most kids love hearing the stories, but in addition to being a fun activity, story-telling is also thought of as an educational tool which can promote moral reasoning and honesty. Conventional wisdom suggests that hearing fairy tales in which dishonest protagonists are punished might help convince the listeners to become truth-tellers. There is surprisingly little scientific data to back up this conve........ Read more »

Lee K, Talwar V, McCarthy A, Ross I, Evans A, & Arruda C. (2014) Can Classic Moral Stories Promote Honesty in Children?. Psychological science. PMID: 24928424  

  • June 4, 2014
  • 08:45 AM
  • 670 views

How Does Your Facebook News Feed Affect You?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Researchers at Facebook, Inc., the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Cornell University teamed up to study whether manipulating the News Feeds of Facebook users would affect the emotional content of the users' status updates or postings. They recently published their findings in the PNAS paper "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks" and suggest that they have found evidence of an "emotional contagion", i.e. t........ Read more »

  • May 30, 2014
  • 06:10 PM
  • 593 views

Does Human Fat Contain Stem Cells?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Many research groups, including our own group, have been able to isolate stem cells from human fat. However, when it came to using this cells for treating cardiovascular disease, the cells behaved in a manner that we had not anticipated.... Read more »

Zuk PA, Zhu M, Mizuno H, Huang J, Futrell JW, Katz AJ, Benhaim P, Lorenz HP, & Hedrick MH. (2001) Multilineage cells from human adipose tissue: implications for cell-based therapies. Tissue engineering, 7(2), 211-28. PMID: 11304456  

Rehman J, Traktuev D, Li J, Merfeld-Clauss S, Temm-Grove CJ, Bovenkerk JE, Pell CL, Johnstone BH, Considine RV, & March KL. (2004) Secretion of angiogenic and antiapoptotic factors by human adipose stromal cells. Circulation, 109(10), 1292-8. PMID: 14993122  

  • May 21, 2014
  • 08:25 AM
  • 567 views

To Err Is Human, To Study Errors Is Science

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

The family of cholesterol lowering drugs known as 'statins' are among the most widely prescribed medications for patients with cardiovascular disease. Large-scale clinical studies have repeatedly shown that statins can significantly lower cholesterol levels and the risk of future heart attacks, especially in patients who have already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. A more contentious issue is the use of statins in individuals who have no history of heart attacks, strokes or........ Read more »

  • May 7, 2014
  • 02:58 PM
  • 645 views

Does Literary Fiction Challenge Racial Stereotypes?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Reading literary fiction can be highly pleasurable, but does it also make you a better person? Conventional wisdom and intuition lead us to believe that reading can indeed improve us. However, as the philosopher Emrys Westacott has recently pointed out in his essay for 3Quarksdaily, we may overestimate the capacity of literary fiction to foster moral improvement. A slew of scientific studies have taken on the task of studying the impact of literary fiction on our emotions and thoughts. Some of t........ Read more »

Johnson, D., Huffman, B., & Jasper, D. (2014) Changing Race Boundary Perception by Reading Narrative Fiction. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 36(1), 83-90. DOI: 10.1080/01973533.2013.856791  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 08:00 PM
  • 682 views

New Study Shows Surgical Checklists In Operating Rooms Are Less Effective Than Assumed

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Optimizing such tailored checklists, understanding why some studies indicate benefits of checklists whereas others do not and re-evaluating the efficacy of checklists in the non-academic setting will all require a substantial amount of future research before one can draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of checklists. Regulatory agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom should reconsider their current mandates. Perhaps an even more important lesson to be learned is that health regulator........ Read more »

Urbach DR, Govindarajan A, Saskin R, Wilton AS, & Baxter NN. (2014) Introduction of surgical safety checklists in Ontario, Canada. The New England Journal of Medicine, 370(11), 1029-38. PMID: 24620866  

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