Posts Tagged ‘news biology’

Designer matrices for intestinal stem cell and organoid culture

Epithelial organoids recapitulate multiple aspects of real organs, making them promising models of organ development, function and disease. However, the full potential of organoids in research and therapy has remained unrealized, owing to the poorly defined animal-derived matrices in which they are grown. Here we used modular synthetic hydrogel networks to define the key extracellular matrix (ECM) parameters that govern intestinal stem cell (ISC) expansion and organoid formation, and show that separate stages of the process require different mechanical environments and ECM components. In particular, fibronectin-based adhesion was sufficient for ISC survival and proliferation. High matrix stiffness significantly enhanced ISC expansion through a yes-associated protein 1 (YAP)-dependent mechanism. ISC differentiation and organoid formation, on the other hand, required a soft matrix and laminin-based adhesion. We used these insights to build a fully defined culture system for the expansion of mouse and human ISCs. We also produced mechanically dynamic matrices that were initially optimal for ISC expansion and subsequently permissive to differentiation and intestinal organoid formation, thus creating well-defined alternatives to animal-derived matrices for the culture of mouse and human stem-cell-derived organoids. Our approach overcomes multiple limitations of current organoid cultures and greatly expands their applicability in basic and clinical research. The principles presented here can be extended to identify designer matrices that are optimal for long-term culture of other types of stem cells and organoids.

Wild monkeys flake stone tools

Our understanding of the emergence of technology shapes how we view the origins of humanity. Sharp-edged stone flakes, struck from larger cores, are the primary evidence for the earliest stone technology. Here we show that wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in Brazil deliberately break stones, unintentionally producing recurrent, conchoidally fractured, sharp-edged flakes and cores that have the characteristics and morphology of intentionally produced hominin tools. The production of archaeologically visible cores and flakes is therefore no longer unique to the human lineage, providing a comparative perspective on the emergence of lithic technology. This discovery adds an additional dimension to interpretations of the human Palaeolithic record, the possible function of early stone tools, and the cognitive requirements for the emergence of stone flaking.

The evolution of Ebola virus: Insights from the 2013–2016 epidemic

The 2013–2016 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa was of unprecedented magnitude and changed our perspective on this lethal but sporadically emerging virus. This outbreak also marked the beginning of large-scale real-time molecular epidemiology. Here, we show how evolutionary analyses of Ebola virus genome sequences provided key insights into virus origins, evolution and spread during the epidemic. We provide basic scientists, epidemiologists, medical practitioners and other outbreak responders with an enhanced understanding of the utility and limitations of pathogen genomic sequencing. This will be crucially important in our attempts to track and control future infectious disease outbreaks.

The evolution of Ebola virus: Insights from the 2013–2016 epidemic

The 2013–2016 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa was of unprecedented magnitude and changed our perspective on this lethal but sporadically emerging virus. This outbreak also marked the beginning of large-scale real-time molecular epidemiology. Here, we show how evolutionary analyses of Ebola virus genome sequences provided key insights into virus origins, evolution and spread during the epidemic. We provide basic scientists, epidemiologists, medical practitioners and other outbreak responders with an enhanced understanding of the utility and limitations of pathogen genomic sequencing. This will be crucially important in our attempts to track and control future infectious disease outbreaks.

The evolution of Ebola virus: Insights from the 2013–2016 epidemic

The 2013–2016 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa was of unprecedented magnitude and changed our perspective on this lethal but sporadically emerging virus. This outbreak also marked the beginning of large-scale real-time molecular epidemiology. Here, we show how evolutionary analyses of Ebola virus genome sequences provided key insights into virus origins, evolution and spread during the epidemic. We provide basic scientists, epidemiologists, medical practitioners and other outbreak responders with an enhanced understanding of the utility and limitations of pathogen genomic sequencing. This will be crucially important in our attempts to track and control future infectious disease outbreaks.

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