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Stem Cell Medicine

The utility of stem cells in medicine has long been debated, and researchers are now proceeding to human studies to see how they can be used to treat disease. According to a new study in Circulation Research, patients with hard-to-treat chest pains reported feeling better after doctors injected them in the heart with stem cells taken from their bone marrow, says Technology Review's Karen Weintraub. The research shows that the cells were able to heal tiny, damaged blood vessels that can't be treated with typical procedures like stents and angioplasty. The researchers used a particular stem cell, CD34+, which is thought to promote blood vessel growth. The researchers harvested them from bone marrow, amplified them, and injected them directly into the damaged part of the heart, Weintraub says. Cardiologists say this research is cause for optimism in treating heart problems, though much work remains to be done.

In a separate procedure, surgeons in California funded by biotech company Advanced Cell Technology have implanted lab-grown retinal cells into the eyes of two patients going blind from macular degeneration, says Technology Review's Antonio Regalado. The company recently won FDA approval to test their cells, grown from human embryonic stem cells, on people.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.