Toronto scientists have an affair with the heart

Ventricular muscle cells. Image courtesy of Dr. Michael LaflammeYou may have heard that Paris is the city of love, but you might not know that Toronto specializes in matters of the heart, particularly broken hearts.Dr. Ren Ke Li, an investigator with the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, established his lab at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute in 1993 hoping to find a way to replace the muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, that are lost after a heart…

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Tinkering with T-cells and rebuilding the body’s security system

To produce T-cells in culture, Zúñiga-Pflücker’s lab uses bone marrow derived OP9-DL cells, engineered to make a key molecule that directs blood stem cells to become T-cells. Here green and blue highlight the cytoplasm and nucleus of the cells. Red indicates the cells in which the T-cell “switch” is turned on. Image courtesy Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker.If we could see the viruses and bacteria on elevator buttons, TV remotes and doorknobs, our everyday surroundings would seem…

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Scientists find link between maternal environment and neurodevelopmental disorders

Genetics is complicated. Once you leave Gregor Mendel and his pea plants and begin looking at human sequencing experiments it becomes notoriously difficult to understand. Nonetheless, there’s a tremendous effort in the scientific community to pin certain genes to certain diseases. Even the most promising results arising from these efforts, however, usually lead to a puzzling problem: a gene that is found to be tightly linked to a given disease might also be found in…

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