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
27 posts

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  • July 22, 2014
  • 01:48 PM
  • 63 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
  • 112 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
  • 142 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
  • 186 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
  • 151 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
  • 157 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
  • 282 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
  • 253 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  

  • March 27, 2014
  • 04:30 AM
  • 272 views

Infected with Love: A Viral Aphrodisiac in Crickets

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Like many other insects, field crickets (Gryllinae) use a courtship song to attract potential mates and initiate mating. A team of researchers headed by Shelley Adamo at Dalhousie University has recently discovered a surprising trigger which speeds up this dating process - a virus. In their recent article “A viral aphrodisiac in the cricket Gryllus texensis” published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the researchers found that a pathogenic insect virus (iridovirus) is able to ........ Read more »

Adamo, S., Kovalko, I., Easy, R., & Stoltz, D. (2014) A viral aphrodisiac in the cricket Gryllus texensis. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/​jeb.103408  

  • February 20, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 396 views

Growing Skepticism about the Stem Cell Acid Trip

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

In January 2014, the two papers “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency” and “Bidirectional developmental potential in reprogrammed cells with acquired pluripotency” published in the journal Nature by Haruko Obokata and colleagues took the world of stem cell research by surprise.... Read more »

Obokata H, Wakayama T, Sasai Y, Kojima K, Vacanti MP, Niwa H, Yamato M, & Vacanti CA. (2014) Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency. Nature, 505(7485), 641-7. PMID: 24476887  

  • February 14, 2014
  • 08:11 AM
  • 351 views

Is It Possible To Have Excess Weight And Still Be Healthy?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Is it possible to be overweight or obese and still be considered healthy? Most physicians advise their patients who are overweight or obese to lose weight because excess weight is a known risk factor for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. However, in recent years, a controversy has arisen regarding the actual impact of increased weight on an individual’s life expectancy or risk of suffering from heart attacks. Some researchers argue tha........ Read more »

  • January 14, 2014
  • 10:00 AM
  • 288 views

NIH Grant Scores Are Poor Predictors Of Scientific Impact

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

A recent paper published in Circulation Research, a major cardiovascular research journal, challenges the assumption that the scores a grant application receives can reliably predict the future impact of the research.... Read more »

Narasimhan Danthi, Colin O Wu, Peibei Shi, & Michael S Lauer. (2014) Percentile Ranking and Citation Impact of a Large Cohort of NHLBI-Funded Cardiovascular R01 Grants. Circulation Research. info:/

  • January 6, 2014
  • 05:00 PM
  • 315 views

Synthetic Biology: Engineering Life To Examine It

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Two scientific papers that were published in the journal Nature in the year 2000 marked the beginning of engineering biological circuits in cells. The paper "Construction of a genetic toggle switch in Escherichia coli" by Timothy Gardner, Charles Cantor and James Collins created a genetic toggle switch by simultaneously introducing an artificial DNA plasmid into a bacterial cell. This DNA plasmid contained two promoters (DNA sequences which regulate the expression of genes) and two rep........ Read more »

Daniel R, Rubens JR, Sarpeshkar R, & Lu TK. (2013) Synthetic analog computation in living cells. Nature, 497(7451), 619-23. PMID: 23676681  

  • December 12, 2013
  • 05:00 PM
  • 348 views

The Link Between Using Pro-Social Media and Empathy

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Does watching TV and playing video games affect our empathy and willingness to engage in pro-social behavior? A team of international psychology researchers studied over 2,000 adolescents (mean age 21 years, 60% female and 40% male) in seven countries (Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Romania and the United States) to determine whether there is a link between the media they consume and their levels of empathy and pro-social behavior. ... Read more »

Sara Prot, Douglas A. Gentile, Craig A. Anderson, Kanae Suzuki, Edward Swing, Kam Ming Lim, Yukiko Horiuchi, Margareta Jelic, Barbara Krahé, Wei Liuqing.... (2013) Long-Term Relations Among Prosocial-Media Use, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613503854  

  • July 11, 2013
  • 06:00 AM
  • 422 views

“Inflamm-Aging”: Inflammatory Signals in the Brain Regulate the Lifespan of Mice

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain and in adult humans, it has a volume of only 4cm3, less than half a percent of the total adult human brain volume. Despite its small size, the hypothalamus is one of the most important control centers in our brain because it functions as the major interface between two regulatory systems in our body: The nervous system and the endocrine (hormonal) system. It consists of many subunits (nuclei) which continuously sense inputs and then respond to........ Read more »

Zhang G, Li J, Purkayastha S, Tang Y, Zhang H, Yin Y, Li B, Liu G, & Cai D. (2013) Hypothalamic programming of systemic ageing involving IKK-β, NF-κB and GnRH. Nature, 497(7448), 211-216. PMID: 23636330  

  • May 11, 2013
  • 08:00 AM
  • 417 views

Cellular Alchemy: Converting Fibroblasts Into Heart Cells

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Medieval alchemists devoted their lives to the pursuit of the infamous Philosopher's Stone, an elusive substance that was thought to convert base metals into valuable gold. Needless to say, nobody ever discovered the Philosopher’s Stone. Well, perhaps some alchemist did get lucky but was wise enough to keep the discovery secret. Instead of publishing the discovery and receiving the Nobel Prize for Alchemy, the lucky alchemist probably just walked around in junkyards, surreptitiously c........ Read more »

Nam, Y., Song, K., Luo, X., Daniel, E., Lambeth, K., West, K., Hill, J., DiMaio, J., Baker, L., Bassel-Duby, R.... (2013) Reprogramming of human fibroblasts toward a cardiac fate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(14), 5588-5593. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1301019110  

  • May 11, 2013
  • 01:00 AM
  • 498 views

Bone Marrow Cell Infusions Do NOT Improve Cardiac Function After Heart Attack

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

For over a decade, cardiologists have been conducting trials in patients using cells extracted from the bone marrow and infusing them into the blood vessels of the heart in patients who have suffered a heart attack. This type of a procedure is not without risks.... Read more »

  • February 27, 2013
  • 07:18 AM
  • 552 views

The ENCODE Controversy And Professionalism In Science

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project received quite a bit of attention when its results were publicized last year. This project involved a very large consortium of scientists with the goal to identify all the functional elements in the human genome. In September 2012, 30 papers were published in a coordinated release and their extraordinary claim was that roughly 80% of the human genome was "functional". This was in direct contrast to the prevailing view among molecular bi........ Read more »

  • February 19, 2013
  • 02:45 PM
  • 607 views

Stemming the Flow: Using Stem Cells To Treat Urinary Bladder Dysfunction

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Neurogenic bladder is a disorder which occurs in spinal cord diseases such as spina bifida and is characterized by an inability of the nervous system to properly control the urinary bladder and the muscle tissue contained in the bladder wall. This can lead to spasms and a build-up of pressure in the bladder, often resulting in urinary incontinence. Children with spina bifida and neurogenic bladder may feel urges to urinate after drinking comparatively small amounts of liquid and they can also in........ Read more »

  • February 14, 2013
  • 10:23 AM
  • 506 views

Resisting Valentine’s Day

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

To celebrate Valentine's Day (as a geeky scientist), I decided to search the "Web of Science" database for published articles with the phrase "Valentine's Day" in the title. The article that had the most citations was "Market-resistance and Valentine's Day events" published in the Journal of Business Research in 2009, by the authors Angeline Close and George Zinkhan. I had never heard of the journal before, but the title sounded very interesting so I ........ Read more »

Close, A., & Zinkhan, G. (2009) Market-resistance and Valentine's Day events. Journal of Business Research, 62(2), 200-207. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2008.01.027  

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