The American Association of Anatomists will gather this week for its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2012 conference, which will draw more than 14,000 scientists from industry, government and academia. Below are some programming highlights for the anatomy meeting. All presentations will be made at the San Diego Convention Center.
Stem cells derived from breast milk that behave like embryonic stem cells
Scientists in Australia have discovered that human breast milk contains stem cells that behave very much like embryonic stem cells. These breast-milk-derived, embryonic-like stem cells are able to turn into various body cell types, including bone, fat, liver, pancreatic and brain cells. Because breast milk is plentiful and can be accessed noninvasively and ethically, this discovery opens new avenues for exploration of innovative stem-cell therapies. Also, breast milk stem cells can be used as a physiological model to study malignant transformation that occurs in breast cancer, and therefore the findings may set the basis for research into new treatments for this disease. The group is now trying to understand the potential role of these breast milk cells for breastfed babies. (12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. Tuesday, 4/24, poster in exhibit area)
The buzz about the exquisite little brains of big insects
A long tradition of studying invertebrates to learn about nervous systems has contributed greatly to our understanding of the functional organization, development and evolution of the intricate networks and the neural mechanisms that are at the root of behavior. Insects in particular offer powerful experimental model systems. Today, the most prominent example is the fruit fly, whose genetic and genomic advantages attract many researchers, but whose small size is limiting for some kinds of studies. This session focuses on much larger insects with beautiful and experimentally tractable nervous systems that permit investigations that complement and extend those accomplished with diminutive species. (10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Monday, 4/23, Room 9)
From babies to bandages: reactivation of embryonic processes in adult injury repair
Embryonic tissue development and adult wound repair happen at different points in the life spectrum, but the molecules, cells and processes in that give rise to embryonic development are the same as those activated after injury. Only, the time it takes and the extent of the tissue-forming activities are quite different. Nonetheless, at this session, you might come to find that development and wound repair are just two sides of the same coin. (10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Monday, 4/23, Room 7A)
Could cartilage transplants eliminate the need for bone grafts?
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, were disappointed at first when the cartilage they were trying to regrow in damaged knees and joints did what cartilage is supposed to do: It turned into bone. But then it was brought to their attention that that natural process might be used to heal those with broken bones and for whom bone grafts, which involve taking bone tissue from elsewhere in the body and sometimes from cadavers, aren't a good option. At this session on tissue engineering, regeneration and repair, the UCSF researchers will talk about how they ended up promoting new bone growth by transplanting cartilage and what the results might mean for the future of bone repair. (8 - 10 a.m. Monday, 4/23, Room 7A)
The genetic, cellular and molecular roots of craniofacial birth defects