Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells – Unknown Possibilities in the Smallest of Packages

You may have read recently that scientists finally succeeded in taking skin cells from heart failure patients and getting them to differentiate in to healthy heart tissue. This is a very promising development on the route to one day finding a treatment for heart failure. Scientists have for some time now known that some non-mammal vertebrates are capable of regenerating beating heart tissue after it’ s being damaged. Zebrafish are able to repair their hearts even when up to 20% of their ventricle has been removed. What has proved elusive is how to replicate that process in humans. In a paper published in volume 464 issue 7288 of Nature, Jopling et al. showed that the regenerative properties found in the zebrafish is due to the proliferation of differentiated cardiomyocytes, something that humans do not posses. To date, the most significant step made in replication the process found in zebrafish, is the creation of cardiomyocytes from Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells. Unlike Embryonic Stem Cells, iPS cells start as differentiated somatic cells, such as skin cells, which are manipulated so that they possesses similar attributes to Embryonic Stem Cells, such as the ability to develop in to fully differentiated tissues. This new development really takes it two steps further. What these scientists did was to form healthy cardiomyocytes from iPS cells induced from patients with heart failure, get them to successfully form and beat together with healthy cardiomyocytes in vitro, and then get them to successfully begin to join existing tissue when implanted in to the hearts of healthy rats. This is very similar to what is happening in zebrafish. So, while we are still some years away from this being considered a viable treatment plan for human patients, this breakthrough is evidence of the power and possibilities that lie within stem cells.

Coin collectors scammed by phony broker

HandcuffsA mother and daughter, two avid coin collectors, were recently scammed by a fake coin broker in New York, the Wall Street Journal reports. The scam artist was indicted on Tuesday for stealing more than $400,000 worth of coins from the family.

Stephanie Brown, the scam artist, targeted an 83-year-old mother and her 56-year-old daughter and took advantage of their fears in regards to the wavering economy. Brown allegedly convinced the women that their coins would be safer in their own homes, rather than in a bank safety deposit box.

Brown then entered the house owned by the mother and told her she would help organize the coins. However, she later walked away with more than $430,000 worth of coins and set up a business in Arizona to sell the valuable pieces.

The scam artist faces charges of burglary, grand larceny and securities fraud, and is being held without bail.

Many coin collectors are looking to monetize their collections in light of the rocky economy. However, the Los Angeles Times recently reported that a growing number of crooks are targeting collectors and offering them undervalued prices for their rare collectibles.

Consumers increasingly opt for gold coins over paper money

Gold CoinsWith the American economy in flux, a growing number of investors are turning to gold items such as coins to protect the value of their assets, reports the New York Times.

The price of the rare metal reached a high of $1,424 per ounce on Tuesday. While the value of the dollar has declined 6 percent over the past two months, gold has risen 17 percent. According to gold investor Abhay Deshpande, the rising interest in gold shows that there is something amiss with the economy.

“People are coming in to buy 50 or 100 coins at a time, which is pretty hefty for individuals,” Mark Oliari, chief executive of CNT, a Massachusetts coin broker, told the source. “It’s not just rich people, either. A lot of people are putting 30 to 35 percent of their net worth in gold; they are scared to put money in paper assets.”

While many consumers are putting more money into gold, they still need to be careful about who they purchase their coins from. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a growing number of fly-by-night dealers are setting up operations in hotels and other temporary offices to take advantage of unknowing gold buyers.

The ICCA Heads to Cincinnati

ICAAThe International Coin Collectors Association, an organization that identifies rare coins for avid collectors, is headed to Cincinnati. The ICCA is currently embarking on a world tour, and has already hit several major areas, including North Carolina and Georgia.

So far, the organization has helped attendees discover more than $2 million worth of rare coins. At one stop, an 1894-S Barber dime was sold for $1.9 million, and most recently, a $300 penny was auctioned off in Georgia.

“The ICCA is a place where anyone in your community can connect with collectors from around the globe,” an organization spokesperson wrote at “Experts make offers based on what our collectors are willing to pay. Then when someone decides to sell, they get paid on the spot and our experts send the item to the collector at their expense.”

While many people may not think they have any rare coins, it’s not uncommon to be pleasantly surprised. For example, Sunday Mercury recently reported that a British mother had discovered a dateless 20 pence coin in her purse that was worth more than $11,000.

Rare coin and gold sellers should be wary of fly-by-night dealers

Gold CoinsThe economic recession caused standard currency to quickly lose value, and, as a result, many Americans began purchasing gold and rare coins in an attempt to fight inflation. Now, some are capitalizing on the rising value of precious metals and trading their coins and gold in for big profits.

According to the Los Angeles Times, sellers need to be wary wary of shady fly-by-night vendors that take advantage of inexperienced collectors. These dealers, who often work out of a hotel or other temporary space, will promise premium prices but not deliver on their guarantees, asserts Jerry Jordan, an investigative journalist who has been tracking unscrupulous vendors.

“They routinely offer pennies on the dollar,” he told the source. “They have an internal motto: If the customer is not educated, do not educate them.”

That doesn’t mean all dealers are to be viewed with suspicion, however. Consumers just need to do their research wisely.

Some rare coins can sell for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to legitimate vendors. Last month, for example, a rare 1794 silver dollar was sold for more than $100,000.

Single British mother finds coins worth $22,000

CoinsA lucky British mother has found two rare, undated 20 pence coins, which are worth upwards of $22,000, reports the Sunday Mercury.

The two coins were mistakenly minted without dates by the Royal Mint in 2008 and are part of a limited batch of coins still in circulation. Last year, one rare dateless coin was sold on eBay for the equivalent of $11,000.

Sabrina Hussain managed to find two of the rare coins over the past year. She lucked upon one that she found at the bottom of her purse. Meanwhile, she received the second coin as change for a losing scratchcard she purchased at a local grocery store.

“I couldn’t believe it, the scratchcard didn’t win, but I’d got another rare coin! It was amazing,” she told the site. “I went back into the store and told all the staff who were gutted that they hadn’t found it. But I was over the moon.”

Another lucky Londoner recently found a stash of 80 rare Double Eagle coins beneath a garden in the Western section of the city, reported the Metro UK.