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Researchers regrow hair, cartilage, bone, soft tissues
Date:11/7/2013

Young animals are known to repair their tissues effortlessly, but can this capacity be recaptured in adults? A new study from researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children's Hospital suggests that it can. By reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a, which is active in embryonic stem cells, researchers were able to regrow hair and repair cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse model.

The study also found that Lin28a promotes tissue repair in part by enhancing metabolism in mitochondriathe energy-producing engines in cellssuggesting that a mundane cellular "housekeeping" function could open new avenues for developing regenerative treatments. Findings were published online by the journal Cell on November 7.

"Efforts to improve wound healing and tissue repair have mostly failed, but altering metabolism provides a new strategy which we hope will prove successful," says the study's senior investigator George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, director of Boston Children's Stem Cell Transplantation Program and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"Most people would naturally think that growth factors are the major players in wound healing, but we found that the core metabolism of cells is rate-limiting in terms of tissue repair," adds PhD candidate Shyh-Chang Ng, co-first author on the paper with Hao Zhu, MD, both scientists in the Daley Lab. "The enhanced metabolic rate we saw when we reactivated Lin28a is typical of embryos during their rapid growth phase."

Lin28, first discovered in worms, functions in all complex organisms. It is abundant in embryonic stem cells, expressed strongly during early embryo formation and has been used to reprogram skin cells into stem cells. It acts by binding to RNA and regulating how genes are translated into proteins.

To better understand how Lin28a promotes tissue repair, the researchers systematically looked at what specific RNAs it binds to. They
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Contact: Irene Sege
irene.sege@chiildrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Boston Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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