Navigation Links
Rare disease reveals new path for creating stem cells
Date:11/21/2010

BOSTON, Mass. (November 21, 2010)As debilitating as disease can be, sometimes it acts as a teacher.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine have found that by mimicking a rare genetic disorder in a dish, they can rewind the internal clock of a mature cell and drive it back into an adult stem-cell stage. This new "stem cell" can then branch out into a variety of differentiated cell types, both in culture and in animal models.

"This certainly has implications for personalized medicine, especially in the area of tissue engineering," says Bjorn Olsen, the Hersey Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and Dean of Research at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

These findings appear November 21, online in Nature Medicine.

Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP), which affect fewer than 1,000 people worldwide, is a horrific genetic disease in which acute inflammation causes soft tissue to morph into cartilage and bone. Over the course of a few decades, patients gradually become thoroughly ossified, as though parts of their body have turned to stone. There is no cure or treatment.

Damian Medici, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, found that, unlike normal skeletal tissue, the pathological cartilage and bone cells from these patients contained biomarkers specific for endothelial cellscells that line the interior of blood vessels. This led him to question whether or not the cartilage and bone growing in soft tissues of FOP patients had an endothelial origin.

Medici and his colleagues transferred the mutated gene that causes FOP into normal endothelial cells. Unexpectedly, the endothelial cells converted into a cell type nearly identical to what are called mesenchymal stem cells, or adult stem cells that can differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle, fat, and even nerve cells. (Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell, whereas adult stem cells are limited.)

What's more, through further experiments the researchers found that instead of using the mutated gene to induce the transformation, they could incubate endothelial cells with either one of two specific proteins (growth factors TGF-beta2 and BMP4) whose cellular interactions mimicked the effects of the mutated gene, providing a more efficient way to reprogram the cells.

Afterwards, Medici was able to take these reprogrammed cells and, in both culture dishes and animal models, coax them into developing into a group of related tissue types.

"It's important to clarify that these new cells are not exactly the same as mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow," says Medici. "There are some important differences. However, they appear to have all the potential and plasticity of mesenchymal stem cells."

"The power of this system is that we are simply repeating and honing a process that occurs in nature," says Olsen. "In that sense, it's less artificial than other current methods for reprogramming cells."

According to study collaborator Frederick Kaplan, Isaac & Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopaedic Molecular Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a world expert on FOP, "While we want to use this knowledge to stop the renegade bone formation of FOP, these new findings provide the first glimpse of how to recruit and harness the process to build extra bone for those who desperately need it."

Medici and Olsen echo this, stating that the most direct application for these findings is the field of tissue engineering and personalized medicine. It is conceivable that transplant patients may one day have some of their own endothelial cells extracted, reprogrammed, and then grown into the desired tissue type for implantation. Host rejection would not be an issue.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
communications@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Hidden infections crucial to understanding, controlling disease outbreaks
2. Iron-moving malfunction may underlie neurodegenerative diseases, aging
3. LIAI launches new division to look at novel approaches to heart disease and inflammation
4. Sirtris review of sirtuin therapeutics for diseases of aging in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery
5. World leaders in infectious diseases convene to discuss emerging global viruses
6. Form of Crohns disease traced to disabled gut cells
7. LSUHSC awarded patent for compound inhibiting cancer and other diseases
8. Tracking down the cause of mad cow disease
9. Waterborne disease risk upped in Great Lakes
10. Sensitive nanowire disease detectors made by Yale scientists
11. Lack of vitamin D linked to Parkinsons disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through ... Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion of ... sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics within ... advanced design and manufacturing event will take place June ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC , a leader ... United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued ... linking of an iris image with a face image ... the company,s 45 th issued patent. ... timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... of a redesigned, easier-to-navigate website for all six of their healthcare job ... nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, and biotechnicians, DocCafe.com and the ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... June 21, 2017 , ... Building on the success of the inaugural ... on the very latest developments in radical life extension. RAADfest combines cutting edge science ... the empowerment of personal development, making it the largest most comprehensive and inclusive super ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... , ... June 22, 2017 , ... ... results to clients throughout the biopharma and life sciences industries, continue to be ... is seeing. Tunnell’s Kip Wolf will be speaking on “The State of Information ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... 20, 2017 , ... CTNext , Connecticut’s go-to resource ... a Higher Education Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee to implement the recommendations of the master ... representatives from 35 higher education institutions across the state over the past six ...
Breaking Biology Technology: