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Harvard scientists find cell fate switch that decides liver, or pancreas?
Date:2/13/2014

experiments showed that prostaglandin E2 could also enhance liver growth and regeneration of liver cells.

Goessling and his research partner North, a Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, first became intrigued by prostaglandin E2 in 2005, as postdoctoral fellows in the lab of HSCI Executive Committee Chair Leonard Zon, MD. It caught their attention during a chemical screen exposing 2,500 known drugs to zebrafish embryos to find any that could amplify blood stem cell populations. Prostaglandin E2 was the most successful hit the first molecule discovered in any system to have such an effectand recently successfully completed Phase 1b clinical trials as a therapeutic to improve cord blood transplants.

"Prostaglandin might be a master regulator of cell growth in different organs," Goessling said. "It's used in cord blood, as we have shown, it works in the liver, and who knows what other organs might be affected by it."

With evidence of how prostaglandin E2 works in the liver, the researchers next want to calibrate how it can be used in the laboratory to instruct induced pluripotent stem cellsmature cells that have been reprogrammed into a stem-like stateto become liver or pancreas cells. The scientists predict that such a protocol could benefit patients who need liver cells for transplantation or who have had organ injury.


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Contact: Joseph Caputo
joseph_caputo@harvard.edu
617-496-1491
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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