Chinese Team Claims Stem Cell Breakthrough in Mice Study

"Researchers at Tsinghua University in China have developed a new drug cocktail that can convert cells into totipotent stem cells, the very seeds of life..." writes New Atlas: Not all stem cells are created equal — they sit in a branching hierarchy of differentiation potential. Multipotent stem cells are found in many tissues in adults, where they can turn into a few types of cells associated with that tissue or organ to help healing. A step earlier in the development tree are pluripotent stem cells, which are found in embryos and can become almost any type of cell in the body. But at the top of the chain sit what are known as totipotent stem cells, which can become any cell in the body as well as supportive tissues like the placenta. These mark the very beginning of development, including the first single cell that forms from a fertilized egg, and they persist for the first few stages of development. After that, the cells differentiate into pluripotent stem cells and further specialize into all the cells of the body as it develops. In recent years scientists have been able to take adult cells and induce a pluripotent state in them, which forms the basis of research into stem cell regenerative medicine. But in the new study, the Tsinghua team took things a step further, returning pluripotent stem cells to a totipotent state for the first time... This breakthrough could open up some major new opportunities, the team says. In the long run, scientists could potentially create a living organism straight from a mature cell, sidestepping the need for sperm and eggs. That could help people have children who otherwise couldn't, or aid conservation of endangered species. The researchers do acknowledge, however, that ethical concerns will no doubt arise. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader hackingbear for sharing the news.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What Happened After Amazon’s $71M Tax Break in Central New York?

This week Amazon announced that "Approximately 1,500 local Amazon employees will operate and work with innovative robotics technology" at a new fulfillment center that's a first of its kind for Central New York. Amazon's press release says they've created 39,000 jobs in New York since 2010 — and "invested over $14 billion in the state of New York" — though they're counting what they paid workers as "investing" (as well as what they paid to build Amazon's infrastructure). Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: In 2019, Onondaga County (New York) officials unanimously approved $71 million in tax breaks to support the development of a giant warehouse in the Town of Clay... "I am very excited to see this tremendous investment in Central New York coming to fruition," said U.S. Representative John Katko. "The new Fulfillment Center will be revolutionary for our region, creating over 1,500 jobs and making significant contributions to the local economy." Driving home Katko's point, the press release added, "In April of 2021, Amazon furthered its commitment to invest in education programs that will drive future innovation in the communities it serves by donating $1.75 million to construct a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) high school in Onondaga County. Amazon's donation will fund robotics and computer science initiatives at the new school [presumably using Amazon-supported curriculum providers]." Unlike Amazon's Fulfillment Center, the new STEAM high school is unlikely to open before Fall 2023 at the earliest, as the $74-million-and-counting project (that Amazon is donating $1.75M towards) to repurpose a school building that has sat empty since 1975 has experienced delays and cost increases. Amazon's press release notes the company also donated $150,000 to be "the presenting sponsor" for the three-day Syracuse Jazz Fest. And it also touts Amazon's support for these other central New York organizations (without indicating the amount contributed): Rescue Mission Alliance: Working to end homelessness and hunger in greater Syracuse. Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST): Supporting the "Be the Scientist" program for Syracuse-area public school students to visit the museum and learn about STEM careers and sponsor planetarium shows for area students. The Good Life Foundation, a nonprofit serving youth in downtown Syracuse DeWitt Rotary Club

Read more of this story at Slashdot.