Aging

The current battle between the makers of anti-wrinkle products – widely compared with the Coke and Pepsi struggle for superiority – is receiving an injection of scientific understanding with the release of a new study from the University of Michigan Health System.

The study is the first to discover that one of the fillers – known by the brand-name Restylane – works by stretching fibroblasts, the cells in the skin that make collagen, in a way that causes the skin to create new collagen. This new, natural collagen then would contribute to the reduction of the appearance of creases and wrinkles.

Stefan Heller's dream is to someday find a cure for deafness.

As a leader in stem cell-based research on the inner ear at the Stanford University School of Medicine, he's got a step-by-step plan for making this dream a reality.

It may take another decade or so, but if anyone can do it, he's the guy to place your bets on.

"Everyone asks, 'How long before we do this?'" said Heller, PhD, associate professor of otolaryngology, whose accent still bears the trace of his native Germany. "I tell them the devil is in the details."

But even at the national level, those in the research community remain hopeful that Heller's work will reap successes sooner rather than later. Heller will discuss his stem cell research during a panel discussion Feb.

With an aging population susceptible to stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, and military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious limb injuries, the need for strategies that treat complex neurological impairments has never been greater.

One tack being pursued by neuroscientists and engineers is the development of “smart” neural prostheses. These devices are intended to restore function, through electrical stimulation, to damaged motor neural circuits – the long, slender fibers that conduct neurochemical messages between nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.