Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Promoting healing by keeping skeletal stem cells 'young'

Date:
March 31, 2010
Source:
University of Rochester Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists seeking new ways to fight maladies ranging from arthritis and osteoporosis to broken bones that won't heal have cleared a formidable hurdle, pinpointing and controlling a key molecular player to keep stem cells in a sort of extended infancy. It's a step that makes treatment with the cells in the future more likely for patients.

Scientists seeking new ways to fight maladies ranging from arthritis and osteoporosis to broken bones that won't heal have cleared a formidable hurdle, pinpointing and controlling a key molecular player to keep stem cells in a sort of extended infancy. It's a step that makes treatment with the cells in the future more likely for patients.

Controlling and delaying development of the cells, known as mesenchymal (pronounced meh-ZINK-a-mill) stem cells, is a long-sought goal for researchers. It's a necessary step for doctors who would like to expand the number of true skeletal stem cells available for a procedure before the cells start becoming specific types of cells that may -- or may not -- be needed in a patient with, say, weak bones from osteoporosis, or an old knee injury.

"A big problem has been that these stem cells like to differentiate rapidly -- oftentimes too rapidly to make them very useful," said Matthew J. Hilton, Ph.D., the leader of the team at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "It's been very hard to get a useful number of stem cells that can still become any one of several types of tissue a patient might need. Having a large population of true skeletal stem cells available is a key consideration for new therapies, and that's been a real roadblock thus far."

In a study published online in the journal Development, Hilton's team discussed how it was able to increase the number and delay the development of stem cells that create bones, cartilage, muscle and fat. The first authors of the paper are Yufeng Dong, Ph.D., senior instructor, and technician Alana Jesse, who worked in Hilton's laboratory at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research.

Hilton's team showed in mice that a molecule called Notch, which is well known for the influence it wields on stem cells that form the blood and the nervous system, is a key factor in the development of mesenchymal stem cells, which make up a tiny fraction of the cells in the bone marrow and other tissues.

The team showed that Notch prevents stem cells from maturing. When the scientists activated the Notch pathway, the stem cells didn't progress as usual. Instead, they remained indefinitely in an immature state and did not go on to become bone cells, cartilage cells, or cells for connective tissue.

The team also settled a long-standing question, fingering the molecule RBPJ-kappa as the molecule through which Notch works in mesenchymal stem cells. That knowledge is crucial for scientists trying to understand precisely how Notch works in bone and cartilage development. A few years ago, Hilton was part of a team that showed that Notch is a critical regulator of the development of bone and cartilage. The latest study extends those observations, providing important details that suggest appropriate activation and manipulation of the Notch pathway may provide doctors with a tool to maintain and expand mesenchymal stem cells for use in treating disease.

The work is part of ongoing research around the world aimed at harnessing the promise of stem cells for human health. Unfortunately, stem cell therapy has been slow to actually make a difference in the lives of patients with problems of the bones and cartilage, Hilton notes, largely because so many questions are currently unanswered.

"To really make stem-cell medicine work, we need to understand where the stem cells have come from and how to get them to become the cell you want, when and where you want it. We are definitely in the infancy of learning how to manipulate stem cells and use them in treatment," said Hilton, assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

"This research helps set the foundation for ultimately trying new therapies in patients," he added. "For instance, let's say a patient has a fracture that simply won't heal. The patient comes in and has a sample of bone marrow drawn. Their skeletal stem cells are isolated and expanded in the laboratory via controlled Notch activation, then put back into the patient to create new bone in numbers great enough to heal the fracture. That's the hope."

Work in Hilton's laboratory was initially funded through start-up funds from the medical center. The early findings have helped him attract two grants from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University has filed a patent on the Notch technology.

In addition to Dong, Jesse, and Hilton, authors include M.D./Ph.D. graduate students Anat Kohn and Lea Gunnell; and faculty members Regis J. O'Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Zuscik, Ph.D. Tasuko Honjo of the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine also contributed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Rochester Medical Center. "Promoting healing by keeping skeletal stem cells 'young'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330142429.htm>.
University of Rochester Medical Center. (2010, March 31). Promoting healing by keeping skeletal stem cells 'young'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330142429.htm
University of Rochester Medical Center. "Promoting healing by keeping skeletal stem cells 'young'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330142429.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden laid out new guidelines for health care workers when dealing with the deadly Ebola virus including new precautions when taking off personal protective equipment. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins