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Welcome to USC Stem Cell, a university-wide initiative connecting researchers and highlighting the latest news in regenerative medicine across USC.

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July 2, 2015

USC Stem Cell researchers reveal a genetic blueprint for cartilage

Developing zebrafish skeleton showing a gene called Sox9 (green) in cartilage-producing cells. (Image by Xinjun He/McMahon Lab)

Developing zebrafish skeleton showing a gene called Sox9 (green) in cartilage-producing cells
(Image by Xinjun He/McMahon Lab)

By Cristy Lytal

Cartilage does a lot more than determine the shapes of people’s ears and noses. It also enables people to breathe and to form healthy bones — two processes essential to life. In a study published in Cell Reports, USC Stem Cell researcher Xinjun He and University of Tokyo researcher Shinsuke Ohba explore how a protein called Sox9 regulates the production of cartilage.

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July 1, 2015

Engineering undergraduates focus on building a microscope for USC’s stem cell research center

Kidney (Image by Lisa Rutledge and Seth Ruffins)

Kidney (Image by Lisa Rutledge and Seth Ruffins)

By Cristy Lytal

Previously, when Andy McMahon, head of USC Stem Cell, wanted a three-dimensional image of a kidney, he would ship the organ to Australia. Now, he can send the organ down the hall to the university’s new specialized microscope — built by a team of five undergraduates from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering as part of the course ENGR 499 Microscope Design and Construction.

Called an optical projection tomography (OPT) microscope, the instrument produces three-dimensional images of pea-sized biological samples, such as organs and embryos. This provides a valuable tool that enables biologists, such as McMahon, to study how organs develop, maintain and repair themselves.

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