Paraplegic Rats Walk After Stem Cell Treatment

Engineered tissue containing human stem cells has allowed paraplegic rats to walk independently and regain sensory perception. The implanted rats also show some degree of healing in their spinal cords. The research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, demonstrates the great potential of stem cellsundifferentiated cells that can develop into numerous different types of cells—to treat spinal cord injury.


Spinal cord injuries often lead to paraplegia. Achieving substantial recovery following a complete tear, or transection, is an as-yet unmet challenge.

Led by Dr. Shulamit Levenberg, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the researchers implanted human stem cells into rats with a complete spinal cord transection. The stem cells, which were derived from the membrane lining of the mouth, were induced to differentiate into support cells that secrete factors for neural growth and survival.

The work involved more than simply inserting stem cells at various intervals along the spinal cord. The research team also built a three-dimensional scaffold that provided an environment in which the stem cells could attach, grow and differentiate into support cells. This engineered tissue was also seeded with human thrombin and fibrinogen, which served to stabilize and support neurons in the rat’s spinal cord.

Rats treated with the engineered tissue containing stem cells showed higher motor and sensory recovery compared to control rats. Three weeks after introduction of the stem cells, 42% of the implanted paraplegic rats showed a markedly improved ability to support weight on their hind limbs and walk. 75% of the treated rats also responded to gross stimuli to the hind limbs and tail.

In contrast, control paraplegic rats that did not receive showed no improved mobility or sensory responses.

In addition, the lesions in the spinal cords of the treated rats subsided to some extent. This indicates that their spinal cords were healing.


“Nanopore” Scanners To Find Early Signs Of Cancer

Using tiny “nanopore” scanners that can detect individual DNA molecules, Professor Amit Meller and colleagues are on the hunt for biological markers in cancer cells tha t may help clinicians diagnose colorectal and lung cancers at their earliest stages. Prof. Meller, of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, leads a research group that is a partner in BeyondSeq, an international research consortium looking for new methods of decoding genetic and epigenetic information from medical samples. BeyondSeq, supported by a €6 million grant from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s framework program, was one of only eight consortia chosen out of 450 submitted proposals.


We are the only lab in the consortium working on early diagnosis of cancer biomarkers, which…will allow doctors to combat the cancers much more effectively and save human lives,” Meller explained. “Currently there are no good ways to diagnose colorectal cancer and lung cancer at early stages. Usually these cancers are diagnosed at later stage (stage 2 or above) in which the patients may already have multiple secondary tumors, hence highly complicating treatment.


Discovery Of Two Proteins That Suppress Cancer

A new study by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could hold one key to control cancer cell growth and development. In a paper published in the April 9, 2015 edition of CELL, the team conducted by Profesor Aron Ciechanover reports on the discovery of two cancer-suppressing proteins.

The heretofore-undiscovered proteins were found during ongoing research on the ubiquitin system, an important and vital pathway in the life of the cell, which is responsible for the degradation of defective proteins that could damage the cell if not removed. The ubiquitin system tags these proteins and sends them for destruction in the cellular complex known as the proteasome. The system also removes functional and healthy proteins that are not needed anymore, thereby regulating the processes that these strong>proteins control.

Usually, the proteins that reach the proteasome are completely broken down, but there are some exceptions, and the current line of research examined p105, a long precursor of a key regulator in the cell called NF-κB. It turns out that p105 can be broken down completely in certain cases following its tagging by ubiquitin, but in other cases it is only cut and shortened and becomes a protein called p50.
Ubiquitin-MoleculeThe ubiquitin molecule within all living cells

NF-κB has been identified as a link between inflammation and cancer. The hypothesis of the connection between inflammatory processes and cancer was first suggested in 1863 by German pathologist Rudolph Virchow, and has been confirmed over the years in a long series of studies. Ever since the discovery (nearly 30 years ago) of NF-κB, numerous articles have been published linking it to malignant transformation. It is involved in tumors of various organs (prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, large intestine, brain, etc.) in several parallel ways, including: inhibition of apoptosis (programmed cell death) normally eliminates transformed cells; acceleration of uncontrolled division of cancer cells; formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which are vital to tumor growth; and increased resistance of cancerous cells to irradiation and chemotherapy.
The research was conducted in the laboratory of Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover, of the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team was led by research associate Dr. Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv and , included additional research students and colleagues, as well as physicians from the Rambam, Carmel and Hadassah Medical Centers, who are studying tumors and their treatment.

Artificial Skin Senses Touch, Humidity And Temperature

Using tiny gold particles and a kind of resin, a team of scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into electronic skin, or e-skin. If scientists learn how to attach e-skin to prosthetic limbs, people with amputations might once again be able to feel changes in their environments.

The secret lies in the sensor’s ability to detect three kinds of data simultaneously. While current kinds of e-skin detect only touch, the Technion team’s invention “can simultaneously sense touch, humidity, and temperature, as real skin can do,” says research team leader Professor Hossam Haick. Additionally, the new system “is at least 10 times more sensitive in touch than the currently existing touch-based e-skin systems.
The findings appear in the June issue of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Ultrathin Films Achieve High Solar Energy Efficiency

Using the power of the sun and ultrathin films of iron oxide (commonly known as rust), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have found a novel way to split water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough, published this week in Nature Materials, could lead to less expensive, more efficient ways to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels. This could be a major step forward in the development of viable replacements for fossil fuels.

“Our approach is the first of its kind,” says lead researcher Associate Prof. Avner Rothschild, of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. “We have found a way to trap light in ultrathin films of iron oxide that are 5,000 thinner than an office paper. This enables achieving high solar energy conversion efficiency and low materials and production costs.
Let’s remind that two days ago Swiss Scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – Switzerland – have declared that they are producing hydrogen from sunlight, water and rust. Their prototypes shared the same basic principle: a dye-sensitized solar cell – invented by Michael Grätzel, a colleague from University of Geneva, – combined with an oxide-based semiconductor. The device is completely self-contained. More on