Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Promoting Healing by Keeping Skeletal Stem Cells ‘Young’

31.03.2010
Kicking Notch up a notch could aid treatment of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis

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.”

Yufeng Dong, Ph.D., and Alana JesseIn 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.

For Media Inquiries:
Tom Rickey
(585) 275-7954

Tom Rickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Camouflage apples
22.03.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>