By taking advantage of techniques developed in the search for Alzheimers treatments, a team of researchers has discovered that a molecule called Notch is essential for the development of critical kidney cells. The study, published online and in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Development, provides key information about kidney development that could have implications for tissue regeneration.
"Tissue transplantation is fantastic but it would be so much better if we could instead raise organs from a patients own cells," says lead investigator Raphael Kopan, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of molecular biology and pharmacology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Before we can actually trick cells into doing what we want them to do we really need to understand every detail about how the organ is put together."
Using an antibody that specifically identifies the active form of Notch, Kopans group observed that the protein is extremely active in the kidney at an earlier stage than previously thought. So they teamed up with kidney development expert Jeffrey H. Miner, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology, to investigate further. First, though, they had to resolve a methodological conundrum: How do you study the effect of Notch in the kidney if animals without Notch die before the kidney begins to form?
Gila Z. Reckess | EurekAlert!
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