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Jefferson receives $1.7 million grant to study stem cells in intervertebral discs of the spine
Date:6/4/2009

of Thomas Jefferson University. "However, these treatments are limited in their effectiveness in restoring disc structure and function. Our ongoing studies suggest that a group of proteins that compromise the notch signaling pathway in the intervertebral discs are central to this process. These proteins regulate a variety of activities of stem cells including proliferation, self-renewal and differentiation. Our goal is to harness the body's own regenerative potential and activate endogenous cells."

Drs. Risbud and Shapiro are collaborating with Drs. Todd Albert and D. Greg Anderson, their clinical colleagues at the Rothman Institute at Jefferson, as well as Dr. Ernestina Schipani, an expert in molecular genetics at Harvard University. The investigators plan to develop a genetically engineered mouse model that lacks selected proteins of the notch signaling pathway in the intervertebral disc. This model will provide important mechanistic insights into the role of the notch signaling pathway in controlling disc cell activities.

"Eventually, we hope to be able to regulate the activities of the disc cells including fostering their inherent regenerative potential," said Risbud. "If we are able to do this it could lead to development of new therapies to treat degenerative disc disease providing relief to millions of back pain suffers."


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Contact: Rick Cushman
richard.cushman@jefferson.edu
215-955-2240
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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