The researchers genetically mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and building on that effort, carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself. This is the first time such a complete study on a stem cell gene has been carried out.
This particular gene is important because it helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in the body, particularly in bone marrow. Now that it has been identified, researchers hope the gene, along with its protein product Latexin, can be used clinically, such as for ramping up the stem cell count in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.
The researchers agreed that this very process is not only interesting, but important because of its usefulness in a wide variety of future genetics studies.
"We're thinking about cancer in a big way," Van Zant said. "This is a great example of translational research – from the most basic type of genetic research all the way to possible treatments for patients."
One big obstacle chemotherapy patients face is stem cell loss after treatments. This limits the dosage amount and types of chemotherapy that can be given. But if Latexin were used to increase the stem cell count, patients would be able to receive increased doses of chemotherapy and be able to recover more quickly. Increased stem cell counts also would be valuable during bone marrow transplants, where the greatest number of stem cells are desired to help a patient recover from cancer.
Another possible use for Latexin would be to help increase the number of stem cells available in umbilical cord blood, which also is used to transplant healthy stem cells in blood marrow transplants. Currently, stem cell transplants with cord blood can only be used in children because cord blood does not contain enough stem cells for an amount needed to be transplanted into an adult.
The only stem cell population that has been examined for effects of Latexin to date is in bone marrow. Van Zant said it is possible, even probable, that other stem cell populations in tissues such as the liver, skin, pancreas or brain may be similarly affected by Latexin. This could open up new therapeutic strategies such as using stem cells for the treatment of other diseases and conditions such as liver disease, diabetes and central nervous system damage as a result of trauma or stroke.
The researchers also are looking into the possible role the gene plays in transforming healthy stem cells into cancerous ones, such as in leukemia and lymphomas. If the gene does in fact play such a role, it is possible that it also could provide the keys to new therapies.
Van Zant describes his discovery as an elation. He worked on the project for six years with Ying Liang, a former graduate student who is now a postdoctoral fellow at UK. Van Zant said this research and publication of the journal article is the culmination of a difficult but rewarding scientific journey.
"We think these findings will have an effect on the broad understanding of the molecular mechanisms that are important to stem cell regulation, including how some stem cells turn cancerous," Van Zant said. "The findings also will help scientists develop effective methods to modulate stem cell numbers and function for therapeutic uses, and also provide a better understanding of the age-related changes that occur in stem cells."
Hollye Staley | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy