Spring Smells, Leaky Brain (Abstract Science: May 15 - 19)
Jillian Scola

Spring Smells, Leaky Brain (Abstract Science: May 15 - 19)

Why spring smells like it does, are we closer to solving Huntington’s and reprogramming blood stem cells.

Basis of ‘leaky’ brain blood vessels in Huntington’s disease identified

(University of California, Irvine News, 5/16/17)

A recent discovery by neurobiologists at the University of California, Irvine shows promises in the race to find a cure for Huntington’s disease(HD).  They have learned why the patients with the fatal disease have defects in the blood-brain barrier that contribute to the symptoms of this fatal disorder. The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from harmful molecules and proteins. It has been established that in Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases there are defects in this barrier adding to HD symptoms. What was not known was whether these defects come from the cells that constitute the barrier or are secondary effects from other brain cells.


Love the smell of spring? Here’s where the season’s odors come from.

(The Washington Post, 5/17/2017, Ben Guarino)

Aaah the smell of spring is in the air!  Do you love the smell of fresh cut grass?  Or do you fancy the small of fresh flowers? It’s a myth that humans don’t have a keen sense of smell but a new scientific review in the journal Science  argues that our noses are finer instruments that you might think.  But do you know why flowers, rain and fresh grass smell the way they do? The science behind some of your favorite summertime smells are unveiled in this fun article.


Blood Stem Cells Grown in the Lab

(The Scientist, 5/17/2017, Ashley Yeager)

Scientists have transformed mature cells into primordial blood cells that regenerate themselves and the components of blood. This is particularly promising for patients who need bone-marrow transplants but can’t find a compatible donor. One team, led by stem-cell biologist George Daley of Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, created human cells that act like blood stem cells, although they are not identical to those found in nature. A second team, led by stem-cell biologist Shahin Rafii of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, turned mature cells from mice into fully fledged blood stem cells. In both studies, some of the transcription factors used have been linked to leukemia. Time will determine which approach succeeds. But the latest advances have buoyed the spirits of researchers who have been frustrated by their inability to generate blood stem cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.


 —Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola