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Spine from a healthy mouse (left) and a mouse with genetically disrupted cartilage progenitor cells (Image by Dawei Geng and Tea Jashashvili)

Arthritis-related gene also regenerates cartilage in joints and growth plates

The IL-6 family of proteins has a bad reputation: it can promote inflammation, arthritis, autoimmune disease and even cancer. However, a new USC-led study published in Communications Biology reveals the importance of IL-6 and associated genes for maintaining and regenerating cartilage in both the joints and in the growth plates that enable skeletal growth in …

Confocal microscopy image of an adult zebrafish head with neural crest-derived cells in red. The Crump lab has used single-cell sequencing to understand how these cells build and repair the head skeleton, with implications for understanding human craniofacial birth defects and improving repair of skeletal tissues. (Image by Hung-Jhen Chen/Crump Lab)

A crowning achievement in understanding head development

Cranial neural crests cells, or CNCCs, contribute to many more body parts than their humble name suggests. These remarkable stem cells not only form most of the skull and facial skeleton in all vertebrates ranging from fish to humans, but also can generate everything from gills to the cornea. To understand this versatility, scientists from …

Yichen Li

Curiosity, commitment and compassion drive Yichen Li’s research in neurodegenerative diseases

Yichen Li has always been driven to understand the world around her. Growing up in an Eastern province in China, Li’s inquisitive nature steered her toward science. “When I was a girl, I wouldn’t stop asking my dad questions, such as what is light, electricity or heat,” she said. Li’s father shared the same delight …

Frank Petrigliano, MD, and Denis Evseenko, MD, PhD, have been collaborating on medical innovations to help heal and even regenerate damaged joints. (Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)

Stopping arthritis before it starts

A novel off-the-shelf bio-implant containing embryonic stem cells has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of cartilage injuries More than a million Americans undergo knee and hip replacements each year. It’s a last resort treatment for pain and mobility issues associated with osteoarthritis, a progressive disease caused by degeneration of the protective layer of cartilage …

Image courtesy of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

USC collaboration helps FaceBase reach 1,000-dataset milestone

The data repository allows craniofacial scientists to share data, which could ultimately lead to improved care for patients with craniofacial developmental disorders. Rapid technological development in the past decade has allowed scientists to generate more data than ever before. At the same time, increased calls for transparency, reproducibility and data sharing in the scientific community …

Carolyn Meltzer

Carolyn C. Meltzer named dean of Keck School of Medicine of USC

USC leaders have named radiologist and nuclear medicine doctor Carolyn C. Meltzer as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Currently the William P. Timmie Professor and chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, Meltzer will assume her new role at USC effective March 1. Her …

Aswathy Ammothumkandy and her family

USC Stem Cell postdoc Aswathy Ammothumkandy recognized by the American Epilepsy Society for her work with neural stem cells

USC Stem Cell postdoctoral trainee Aswathy Ammothumkandy vividly recalls when the tour guide shared the story of Dolly the cloned sheep during her ninth-grade field trip to the regional science center in her home town of Kozhikode, India. From that moment on, Ammothumkandy set her heart on a career in biotechnology. “I thought that this …

Atmaca’s illustration about Weiss-Kruszka syndrome

Keck School researchers honored for Fall 2021 BioRender Illustration competition

Z. Eda Atmaca, a PhD student in biomedical sciences/development and stem cell and regenerative medicine, was selected as the winner of the Fall 2021 BioRender Illustration competition. Priscilla Chan, a PhD candidate in the cancer biology and genomics program, took second place. Karolina Charaziak, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology—head and neck surgery, finished third. Atmaca’s …

Ear exam

Study reveals common loud noises cause fluid buildup in the inner ear and suggests simple possible cure for noise-induced hearing loss

Exposure to loud noise, such as a firecracker or an ear-splitting concert, is the most common preventable cause of hearing loss. Research suggests that 12% or more of the world population is at risk for noise-induced loss of hearing. Loud sounds can cause a loss of auditory nerve cells in the inner ear, which are …

Leukemia cells

How alike are the cancer cells from a single patient?

Even within a single patient with cancer, there is a vast diversity of individual tumor cells, which display distinct behaviors related to growth, metastasis, and responses to chemotherapy. To carry out these behaviors, each cancer cell uses its genes to make the needed molecules in a unique way known as its “gene expression signature.” To …

Students

California’s stem cell agency awards USC $5 million to train scientists and clinicians

USC has been awarded a $5 million training grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to prepare PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and clinical fellows for careers in stem cell research. CIRM also approved 17 other training programs at universities and clinical facilities across California, including one at USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). …

Ching-Ling (Ellen) Lien

California’s stem cell agency awards CHLA $5 million training grant

Stem cells are the seeds that grow our hearts, brains, lungs, intestines—every one of the body’s tissues and organs. By studying stem cells and their potential to replace damaged or dysfunctional cells, researchers are gaining knowledge to better understand diseases and develop new treatments, including for many common childhood conditions. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los …

Smog

How does air pollution influence Alzheimer’s risk?

Higher exposure to air pollution is strongly associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, especially for people with certain genetic risk factors for the disease. Exactly how pollution interacts with these genes to increase dementia risk is still unknown, but clues may be found in how stem cells within the brain undergo aging, according to …

Faculty Positions in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, USC

The Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (stemcell.keck.usc.edu/) is recruiting outstanding faculty at all levels in the area of regenerative medicine. We are particularly interested in candidates developing translational efforts around strong disease indications. The department is housed in the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research within …

Bell in the lab

Drug-like molecule points to novel strategies for cancer therapy

A decade ago, genome sequencing revealed a big surprise: about 50 percent of human cancers are linked to mutations in what are known as epigenetic regulators, which control the activity of genes. In a new study in Cell Chemical Biology, a team of scientists led by Oliver Bell from USC and Stephen V. Frye from …

Impromptu McMahon lab meeting

USC Stem Cell: An incubator for medicine of the 21st century

Just over a decade ago, USC was a university with a few scattered stem cell biologists, and a vision for total transformation. The university was committed to designing a unique “incubator” for researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and beyond to collaborate and leverage the transformative power of stem cells to develop …

Illustration by Jonathan Haase

Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet help mice live longer, healthier

While many diets have been studied for effectiveness in preventing obesity and heart disease in both mice and humans, research on the effects and benefits of short, periodic cycles of fasting on obesity and heart health are lacking. In a new USC study on the health effects of a low-calorie diet that mimics fasting in the body, researchers found regular five-day cycles of the diet in mice seemed to counteract the detrimental effects of their usual high-fat, high-calorie diet. The study, published today in Nature Metabolism, analyzed the diet, health and lifespan …

mourning gecko

Aided by stem cells, a lizard regenerates a perfect tail for the first time in 250 million years

Lizards can regrow severed tails, making them the closest relative to humans that can regenerate a lost appendage. But in lieu of the original tail that includes a spinal column and nerves, the replacement structure is an imperfect cartilage tube. Now, for the first time, a USC-led study in Nature Communications describes how stem cells …

Bérénice Benayoun

Bérénice Benayoun receives prestigious investigator-focused grant

The Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award directly supports scientists, providing stability, flexibility and more opportunities for breakthroughs. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded an R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) to USC Leonard Davis Assistant Professor Bérénice Benayoun to support her research on mechanisms of genomic regulation and how they influence health and …

(Image courtesy of Children's Hospital Los Angeles)

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles awarded $6.8 million five-year grant to help lead national consortium on healthy brain development

Groundbreaking 25-site study will follow thousands of children from multiple demographics before birth through early childhood. When children are sick, clinicians can consult a known standard for how their heart, lungs and kidneys should be growing and working. But no such rubric exists for something as complex as brain development. As part of a nationwide …

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