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How to make a human

Technology meets biology with our new stem cell robots

How to make a human was developed by one of our Principal Investigators Dr Elisa Laurenti in partnership with Dr Stephane Magnenat, researcher in educational robotics, EPFL, Switzerland.

The activity presents the robot as a pluripotent stem cell, which requires programming to become a specific cell lineage. Visitors are taken through the choices a cell makes during differentiation and are then tasked with programming their robot by filling out a specially designed bar code. The robot is then put to the test, as it reads the code and makes it way across a floor map, making choices until it reaches it's cell type of choice.

We launched the activity at Cambridge Science Festival 2016 with two hands on days in the Guildhall on 12 and 13 March, and a session at the Clinical School on 20 March. Since then the robots have featured at a number of festivals and events and even returned to the Science Festival for a second year in a row!

Funded by a Public Engagement Seed Fund grant from the Stem Cell Institute

   

   

   

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Cancer treatment: study finds targeting nearby ‘normal’ cells could improve survival rates

Jan 16, 2020

Cancer of the immune system, called lymphoma or leukaemia, generally affects the entire body’s bone marrow and lymph nodes. Because these types of cancers are so widespread, surgery isn’t useful, so patients are usually treated with chemotherapy. Although these treatments have become significantly better in the past ten years, lymphoma and chronic leukaemia often come back months or years after treatment.

Single-cell analysis of the earliest cell fate decisions in development

Dec 11, 2019

Researchers at the Babraham Institute, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), CRUK Cambridge Institute and the Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute have provided the first single-cell epigenomic analysis of gastrulation, a crucial process in early embryo development. The researchers analysed over 1,000 cells from mouse embryos to understand the epigenetic priming events preceding gastrulation and the cell fate decisions these establish. The findings, published on Wednesday 11th December in Nature, uncover fundamental knowledge about the processes that programme cell fate in the early embryo to generate all the organs and tissues of the body.

Affiliate group leader Florian Merkle named Robertson Stem Cell Investigator

Oct 23, 2019

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) announced the 2019 class of NYSCF – Robertson Investigators, welcoming six of the most talented stem cell researchers and neuroscientists into the NYSCF Investigator Program.

First cell map of developing human liver reveals how blood and immune system develop

Oct 09, 2019

In a world first, scientists have created the human developmental liver cell atlas that provides crucial insights into how the blood and immune systems develop in the foetus. It maps changes in the cellular landscape of the developing liver between the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, including how stem cells from the liver seed other tissues to support the high demand for oxygen needed for growth.

Diabetes drug reverses cell ageing and could stop multiple sclerosis

Oct 08, 2019

New research published in Cell Stem Cell suggests a common diabetes drug could hold the key to stopping disease progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). The new finding offers hope to people living with advanced forms of the condition, who currently have no treatment and often see disability as inevitable.

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The Cambridge Stem Cell Institute is a world-leading centre for stem cell research.

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