NEWS FROM EMBO ScIENTIFIc pUBLIcATIONS THE EMBO Molecular Medicine RESEARch ARTIcLE Cancer stem cells isolated from kidney tumours Scientists have isolated cancer stem cells that lead to the growth of Wilms’ tumours, a type of cancer typically found in the kidneys of young children. The researchers have used these cancer stem cells to test a new therapeutic approach that one day might be used to treat some of the more aggressive types of this disease. “In earlier studies, cancer stem cells were isolated from adult cancers of the breast, pancreas and brain but so far much less is known about stem cells in paediatric cancers,” remarked Professor Benjamin Dekel, head of the Pediatric Stem Cell Research Institute and a senior physician at the Sheba Medical Center and the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Israel. “Cancer stem cells contain the complete genetic machinery necessary to start, sustain and propagate tumour growth and they are often referred to as cancer-initi- ating cells. As such, they not only represent a useful system to study cancer development but they also serve as a way to study new drug targets and potential treatments designed to stop the growth and spread of different types of cancer.” Prospective isolation and characteriza- tion of renal cancer stem cells from human Wilms’ tumor xenografts provides new therapeutic targets Naomi Pode-Shakked, Rachel Shukrun, Michal Mark-Danieli, Peter Tsvetkov, Sarit Bahar, Sara Pri-Chen, Ronald S. Goldstein, Eithan Rom-Gross, Yoram Mor, Edward Fridman, Karen Meir, Marcus Magister, Naftali Kaminski, Amos Simon, Victor S. Goldmacher, Orit Harari-Steinberg, Benjamin Dekel EMBO Molecular Medicine Read the paper: emmm.201201516/full doi: 10.1002/emmm.201201516 EMBO Molecular Medicine RESEARch ARTIcLE Scientists discover new diagnostic markers for Kawasaki disease Researchers have discovered proteins in human urine that offer new opportunities for the diagnosis, study and maybe even the treat- ment of Kawasaki disease. Mass spectrometry-based proteomic anal- ysis of the human urine proteome, the entire set of proteins found in human urine, uncovered molecu- lar markers that offer significant improvements for the diagnosis of the disease. “There is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki disease. Currently avail- able diagnostic markers lack the specificity and sensitivity needed for reliable detection of the disease which has motivated our deci- sion to use proteomics to identify new, improved biomarkers,” said Susan Kim, a rheumatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. “Kawasaki disease is often difficult to diagnose and is the most prevalent cause of acquired child- hood heart disease in the developed world. Failure to detect it can lead to coronary artery aneurysms and in some cases death, particularly in children who are not diagnosed early enough.” Urine proteomics for discovery of improved diagnostic markers of Kawasaki disease Alex Kentsis, Andrew Shulman, Saima Ahmed, Eileen Brennan, Michael C. Monuteaux, Young-Ho Lee, Susan Lipsett, Joao A. Paulo, Fatma Dedeoglu, Robert Fuhlbrigge, Richard Bachur, Gary Bradwin, Moshe Arditi, Robert P. Sundel, Jane W. Newburger, Hanno Steen, Susan Kim EMBO Molecular Medicine Read the paper: emmm.201201494/abstract doi: 10.1002/emmm.201201494 EMBO JOURNAL RESEARch ARTIcLE Brain neurons and diet influence onset of obesity and diabetes in mice The absence of a specific type of neuron in the brain can lead to obesity and diabetes in mice. However, the outcome depends on the type of diet that the animals are fed. A lack of AgRP-neurons, brain cells known to be involved in the control of food intake, leads to obesity if mice are fed a regular carbohydrate diet. Animals that are deficient in AgRP-neurons but which are raised on a high-fat diet are leaner and healthier. The differ- ences are due to the influence of the AgRP-neurons on the way other tissues in the body break down and store nutrients. “Susceptibility to obesity and other metabolic diseases is mostly thought to be due to complex genetic interactions and the radical environmental changes that have occurred during the last century. However, it is not just a question of what you eat and your genetic makeup but also how the body manages to convert, store and use food nutrients,” commented Serge Luquet, lead author of the study and a researcher at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Unit of Functional and Adaptive Biology, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité. Hypothalamic AgRP-neurons control peripheral substrate utilization and nutri- ent partitioning Aurélie Joly-Amado, Raphaël GP Denis, Julien Castel, Amélie Lacombe, Céline Cansell, Claude Rouch, Nadim Kassis, Julien Dairou, Patrice D Cani, Renée Ventura-Clapier, Alexandre Prola, Melissa Flamment, Fabienne Foufelle, Christophe Magnan, Serge Luquet The EMBO Journal Read the paper: doi: emboj.2012.250 RESEARch ARTIcLE Engineered bacteria can make the ultimate sacrifice Scientists have engineered bacteria that are capable of sacrificing them- selves for the good of the bacterial population. These altruistically inclined bacteria can be used to demonstrate the conditions where programmed cell death becomes a distinct advantage for the survival of the bacterial population. Stress Overall benefit Public good “We have used a synthetic biology approach to explicitly measure and test the adaptive advantage of programmed bacterial cell death in Escherichia coli,” said Lingchong You, senior author of the study and an associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. “The system is tunable which means that the extent of altruistic death in the bacterial population can be increased. We are therefore able to control the extent of programmed cell death as well as test the bene- fits of altruistic death under differ- ent conditions.” The lead author of the study is Yu Tanouchi, a gradu- ate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Anand Pai and Nicolas Buchler also contrib- uted to the work. Programming stress-induced altruistic death in engineered bacteria Yu Tanouchi, Anand Pai, Nicolas E Buchler, Lingchong You Molecular Systems Biology Read the paper: doi: 10.1038/msb.2012.50 ©2013 EMBO EMBOencounters | Winter 2012|2013 | 11