SAN FRANCISCO, CAAugust 14, 2011Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have gained new insight into the delicate relationship between two proteins that, when out of balance, can prevent the normal development of stem cells in the heart and may also be important in some types of cancer.
"The news, being announced in a paper published online today in Nature Cell Biology, adds to the understanding of the role of stem cells in embryonic heart development, and how that process could be manipulated to create new heart muscle in the future. This paper also provides another example of how the same signals controlling stem cells in the embryo are those that can cause human cancers, providing new insight into treating this devastating disease."
"These findings reveal an unexpected cross-talk between two important proteins that together regulate the growth of many types of stem cells, including cardiac stem cells"," said Deepak Srivastava, MD, senior author and director of Gladstone's cardiovascular research. "More than 35,000 babies are born each year with congenital heart defects, and there are nearly 5 million adults who suffer from heart failure in the United States. We hope that our research can lead to new hope for all those impacted by these diseases."
Further, these findings underscore the value of the "basic" researchthe kind in which Gladstone specializesin which scientists focus on improving our fundamental understanding of biology. Basic research is not necessarily targeted at a specific drug target, for example, as "applied" research often is. But basic research does often lead to breakthroughs that can significantly improve human health.
"We weren't at all focused on cancer as we created and carried out our experiments," said Chulan Kwon, PhD, who led the work at Gladstone and is now an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But it is gratifying that while expanding our basic kno
|Contact: Anne Holden|