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Top 5 Cell Science Stories of 2020

Top 5 Cell Science Stories of 2020 content piece image

Although COVID-19 research and discoveries may have dominated the headlines this year, 2020 has also seen numerous other incredible scientific breakthroughs. In this listicle, we look back at five of the most-read cell science-related news stories published on Technology Networks this year not featuring SARS-CoV-2.

Method to regrow cartilage in the joints discovered

A team of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine discovered a method to regenerate articular cartilage in mice and human tissue. Building on previous work, the researchers used chemical signals to direct skeletal stem cells to develop cartilage instead of fibrocartilage during injury healing.

“Cartilage has practically zero regenerative potential in adulthood, so once it’s injured or gone, what we can do for patients has been very limited. It’s extremely gratifying to find a way to help the body regrow this important tissue,” said author Dr Charles K.F. Chan, in a press release.

Published in:
Nature Medicine
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Reproductive aging process reversed in mice

Scientists from the University of Queensland investigating the loss of egg quality associated with aging demonstrated that oral administration of small doses of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) - a precursor compound of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – could restore the quality of eggs in mice.

“Our findings suggest there is an opportunity to restore egg quality and in turn female reproductive function using oral administration of NAD-boosting agents – which would be far less invasive than IVF. It is important to stress, however, that although promising, the potential benefits of these agents remains to be tested in clinical trials,” remarked Professor Hayden Homer in a press release.

Published in:
Cell Reports
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Factor discovered that enables adult skin to regenerate like a newborn’s

Intrigued by the phenomenon that babies who have undergone surgery in utero are born without scars, researchers from Washington State University identified a transcription factor, Lef1, that enables adult skin to repair itself without scarring. The discovery could pave the way to improved treatment for skin wounds as well as preventing skin aging.

“We were able to take the innate ability of young, neonatal skin to regenerate and transfer that ability to old skin,” said Ryan Driskell, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences in a press release. “We have shown in principle that this kind of regeneration is possible.”

Published in:
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Role of Y chromosome genes in somatic cells uncovered

Researchers from the University of Montreal investigated the role that male genes may play in non-sex organ cells. By inactivating two male genes on the Y chromosome, they demonstrated that the roles of these genes are not limited to sex organ function.   

"Our discovery provides a better understanding of how male genes on the Y chromosome allow male cells to function differently from female cells," said Christian Deschepper, the study's lead author, in a press release. "In the future, these results could help to shed some light on why some diseases occur differently in men and women."

Published in:
Scientific Reports
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Variations in cellular senescence may influence health and onset of age-related diseases

Researchers from Kumamoto University have proposed that there are four distinct states of cellular senescence that arise from coordinated metabolic and epigenomic changes; 1. initiation (proliferation arrest), 2. early (anti-inflammation), 3. full (increased inflammation and metabolism), and 4. late (decreased inflammation and metabolism).

"We hope that our work will provide an opportunity for the scientific community to consider a new understanding of the mechanisms of cellular senescence and body aging," said Professor Mitsuyoshi Nakao in a press release. "We believe that phenotypic variation in cellular senescence can lead to new methods to promote healthy longevity and the control and prevention age-related diseases."

Published in:
Trends in Cell Biology
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