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BU researchers derive purified lung and thyroid progenitors from embryonic stem cells
Date:4/5/2012

(Boston) Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) have derived a population of pure lung and thyroid progenitor cells in vitro that successfully mimic the developmental milestones of lung and thyroid tissue formation. The research, which will be published in the April 6 edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell, identifies factors necessary for embryonic stem cells to differentiate into lung progenitor cells and provides key information about how the tissue engineering technology can be used to develop new gene and cell-based therapies to treat lung diseases.

Darrell Kotton, MD, co-director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) at Boston University and BMC and attending physician in pulmonary, allergy and sleep medicine at BMC, led this study. The findings represent years of research dedicated to identifying how to generate an unlimited source of lung progenitor cells in vitro from embryonic stem (ES) cells.

Since ES cells resemble the early developing embryo, CReM investigators studied normal lung and thyroid development in the developing embryo. They used this knowledge as a roadmap to induce the same sequence of developmental milestones in ES cells in culture.

Previous research shows that progenitor cells from the embryo's gut tube (called endoderm) give rise to the lungs, thyroid, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract and other organs. This led the researchers to focus on that time of development in order to identify what factors are responsible for how the cells differentiate.

The ES cells were engineered to include a fluorescent tag that glowed at the moment lung or thyroid cells were generated from ES cells in culture. Using this approach, the researchers differentiated the ES cells into gut tube endoderm and then identified growth factors that induced lung and thyroid lineages. Ultimately, 160 lung or thyroid progenitors could be generated per starting stem
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Contact: Jenny Eriksen
jenny.eriksen@bmc.org
617-638-6841
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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