• So far, getting stem cells to do exactly what doctors want them to do has been trickier than researchers had expected. The problem was that stem cells receive a lot of different many different inputs and researchers didn't know how the cell decides to differentiate. 
  • Researchers used a pulse of blue light to "turn on" a Brn2 gene in mouse stem cells. Of course CRISPR-Cas9 is involved. The researchers used that technique to add a "fluorescent tag" to a transcription factor, allowing researchers to "read" the cells' decision making.
  • This discovery brings stem cell therapy much closer to being able to repair damaged and aging tissue. From the lead author: "There's lots of promise that we can do these miraculous things like tissue repair or even growing new organs, but in practice, manipulating stem cells has been notoriously noisy, inefficient, and difficult to control... If we want to precisely manipulate cell fate, we have to understand the information-processing mechanisms in the cell that control how it responds to the things we're trying to do to it."

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