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Functional human cartilage grown in lab

Researchers have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from bone marrow tissue.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, who led the study and is the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia Engineering and professor of medical sciences, said they’ve been able - for the first time - to generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking in vitro the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation.

Vunjak-Novakovic’s team succeeded in growing cartilage with physiologic architecture and strength by radically changing the tissue-engineering approach.

Sarindr Bhumiratana, postdoctoral fellow in Vunjak-Novakovic’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, came up with the approach: inducing the mesenchymal stem cells to undergo a condensation stage as they do in the body before starting to make cartilage.

He discovered that this simple but major departure from how things were usually being done resulted in a quality of human cartilage not seen before.

Empathic stress can be contagious: Study

Stress can be contagious, as observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol, a new study suggests.

This is the conclusion reached by scientists involved in a large-scale cooperation project between the departments of Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and Clemens Kirschbaum at the Technische Universitat Dresden.

Empathic stress arose primarily when the observer and stressed individual were partners in a couple relationship and the stressful situation could be directly observed through a one-way mirror.

However, even the observation of stressed strangers via video transmission was enough to put some people on red alert.

In our stress-ridden society, empathic stress is a phenomenon that should not be ignored by the health care system.

Stress is a major health threat in today’s society. It causes a range of psychological problems like burnout, depression and anxiety.


Milk and cheese good for obese adults

Researchers have found that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes.

The study examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Lars O Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide.

In the US alone, about 35 per cent of adults and about 17 per cent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals.

But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal.

Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be.

But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.

They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein or cod.

The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’.

These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.

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