Morphogens are molecules that play a role in the development of organs
Scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center believe they have answered some critical questions that address how signaling molecules, called morphogens, work. Morphogens are secreting signaling molecules that play a key role in the formation of the shape and size of organs. For example, these molecules play a role in determining the bean-like shape of human kidneys. But when these molecules malfunction, they can lead to organ defects and cancers. This study provides insights into the mechanisms of organogenesis and could have implications for treating organ defects and cancers.
For years scientists at Cincinnati Children’s and elsewhere have sought to determine how morphogens work. In a new study published in the October 15 issue of the journal Cell, Xinhua Lin, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental biology at Cincinnati Children’s, concluded that morphogens work by "diffusion." "These findings provide new insight into the understanding of the mechanisms that control the function of morphogens," Lin said. "In order to treat diseases related with morphogen malfunctions, scientists must first understand the mechanisms that trigger diseases. This understanding can lead to new insight into the possibility of developing new strategies to treat related diseases."
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