Category Archives: Cell biology, development and evolution

A radiosensitivity test for predicting sequelae following radiotherapy

Researchers at Inserm Unit 1194, “Montpellier Cancer Research Institute” (Inserm/University of Montpellier/Montpellier Regional Cancer Institute) have confirmed the value of a new test to identify cancer patients who will be free of sequelae following radiotherapy. This test, conducted on a blood sample taken from 500 breast cancer patients, treated in 10 centres in France, and monitored for 3 years, showed that women with a high rate of radiation-induced lymphocyte apoptosis (RILA) had a very low rate of late breast fibrosis. These results, which are published in EBioMedicine, suggest that personalisation of curative intent radiotherapy could be considered, with tailoring of the radiation dose delivered to the patient and the radiotherapy technique employed.

Beginning of life: how does symmetry come into play?

The first embryonic division, which follows gamete fusion (oocyte and spermatozoon), starts the development of a new individual, the genesis of a functional adult body. This division is symmetric in the one-cell embryo stage (also known as the zygote); it leads to the formation of two daughter cells of identical size. Conversely, it is asymmetric in the oocyte, which has the same size and shape as the zygote. Why? What directs the zygote to divide symmetrically, while the oocyte divides asymmetrically during meiosis? Such are the questions pondered by Marie-Emilie Terret, a researcher at Inserm, and Marie-Hélène Verlhac, a researcher at CNRS and director of the Asymmetric Divisions in Oocytes team at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology (CIRB; Inserm/CNRS/Collège de France).

From pluripotency to totipotency

researchers from Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla’s team have pushed the limits of science even further. They managed to obtain totipotent cells with the same characteristics as those of the earliest embryonic stages and with even more interesting properties.

Natural reparative capacity of teeth elucidated

Researchers at Inserm and Paris Descartes University have just taken an important step in research on stem cells and dental repair. They have managed to isolate dental stem cell lines and to describe the natural mechanism by which they repair lesions in the teeth.

A mechanism for eliminating proteins accidentally localised to the cell nucleus

An international collaboration coordinated by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) (University of Heidelberg), including French researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Development of Rennes (IGDR) (CNRS/University of Rennes 1) under the leadership of Gwenaël Rabut, Inserm Researcher, and teams from Sweden and Canada, has just demonstrated a new molecular mechanism that may allow cells to destroy proteins accidentally localised to the nucleus.

From rectal cells to neurons : keys to understanding transdifferentiation

How can a specialized cell change its identity? A team from the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (CNRS/INSERM/Université de Strasbourg) investigated a 100% effective natural example of this phenomenon, which is called transdifferentiation. This process, by which some cells lose their characteristics and acquire a new identity, could be more generally […]

Lipids serving the brain

Membrane plasmique en vert, transferrine en rouge

Consuming oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially ‘omega 3’, is good for our health. But the mechanisms explaining these effects are poorly understood. Researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (CNRS/Nice Sophia Antipolis University), the Compartmentation and Cellular Dynamics Unit (CNRS/Curie Institute/UPMC) of Inserm and Poitiers University1 were interested in the effect of lipids carrying polyunsaturated chains when they are taken into cell membranes.

Mechanics and genetics: an indispensable cocktail for embryonic development

In the fruit fly Drosophila and zebrafish, mechanical strain may activate the genetic cascade that initiates the formation of the future organs during embryogenesis. A discovery made by Emmanuel Farge (Inserm Research Director at Institut Curie) and his staff might explain the emergence of the first complex organisms more than 570 million years ago.

Dwarfism: a new development to restore bone growth

Inserm researcher Elvire Gouze, and her associates from the Mediterranean Centre for Molecular Medicine in Nice (Inserm Unit 106), have succeeded in restoring bone growth in mice suffering from this developmental pathology.

A new therapeutic strategy to combat prion and Alzheimer’s diseases

A work performed by the teams headed by Benoit Schneider and Odile Kellermann (INSERM Unit 747, team “Stem cells, Signalling and Prions”, Université Paris Descartes) as well as Jean-Marie Launay’s team (INSERM Unit 942 Hôpital Lariboisière and the FondaMental Foundation) was published this week in the magazine Nature Medicine. The article revealed that in neurons, an enzyme, the kinase PDK1, is involved in the accumulation of the pathological proteins involved in prion and Alzheimer’s diseases. The researchers show that the pharmacological inhibition of this enzyme exerts a beneficial effect towards both pathologies.

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