Hurray For The Proposed Harvard Stem Cell Research Center

It's not every day that I find an article about someone I know as the front page story of the Boston Globe. I was very pleased this past Sunday to read about Harvard University's initiative to launch a center for the study of human embryonic stem cells, and as a follow-on to the main article about fund-raising for the proposed center there was an article about Dr. Ole Isacson of Mclean Hospital in Belmont, MA. Harvard's new center will be comprised of an amalgamation of various existing laboratories throughout the greater Boston area, including Mclean Hospital. Since the federal government currently limits funding of stem cell research to existing (aged) cell lines while prohibiting funding for research conducted from newly generated cell lines, Harvard is skirting the ban by funding its center through privately raised money.

Dr. Isacson, a professor of neuroscience and a director for the center of regeneration at Mclean, focuses on the transplanation of fetal brain tissue into the degenerated area of the brain for those afflicted by Parkinson's disease [listen]. The brains of Parkinson's patients exhibit a degeneration of the Basal Ganglia (striata or corpus striatum), a dopaminergic center of the brain involved in (extra pyramidal) regulation of fine movement (or motor control). Some degree of this type of degeneration occurs "normally" in the aging process and can be noticed by the slight shaking of the hand of an elderly person for example, but this condition is exacerbated in Parkinson's patients to the point of spasms and the complete inability to walk or sit still. A type of cell therapy to treat Parkinsons harvests young cells from that part of fetal mamalian brain that would normally develop into the Basal Ganglia (corpus striatum), and transplant it into the equivalent area of the host brain in the patient. The transplanted cells would recognize the cellular signals given off by neighboring areas of the brain, which would cue the cells to develop normally and replace those that have died in that brain area. Those cells have been shown to take hold in the patient's brain, develop properly, and begin producing dopamine, hopefully in the desired levels to restore the neural networks that govern fine control of movement. The result is the amelioriation of Parkinson's symptoms indefinitely. Some day this type of therapy may be replaced by the use of neural tissues grown from embryonic stem cells instead.

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BNUG Linux BootCamp

The Boston Network Users Group will be presenting a 1 day "bootcamp" introduction to Linux on Saturday, March 20 from 8:30 to 4:30, at Mount Ida College in Newton, MA.† I'm always looking to pick up useful bits of Linux information, tips, and tricks whenever I can, so I'll be there.†


Topics:




  • Introduction to Linux including considerations in selecting a distribution.


  • Basic Linux Commands, common directories and file structures.


  • Advanced Applications including networking and desktop applications.


  • System Administration: user accounts, privileges, and security considerations.


The cost is $100 in advance or $115 at the door.† Seating is limited, so for more information and to register see the BNUG website.