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Scientists discover molecular pathway for organ tissue regeneration and repair
Date:2/15/2010

CINCINNATI -- Scientists have discovered a molecular pathway that works through the immune system to regenerate damaged kidney tissues and may lead to new therapies for repairing injury in a number of organs systems.

The findings, reported in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), come from collaborative research led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Brigham & Women's Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

The study may have significant medical ramifications as currently there are no effective treatments for acute kidney injury a growing problem in hospitals and clinics, according to the study's senior co-authors, Richard Lang, Ph.D., a researcher in the divisions of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Developmental Biology at Cincinnati Children's, and Jeremy Duffield, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Acute kidney injury is a significant cause of kidney disease, cardiovascular complications and early death, affecting as many as 16 million children and adults in the United States.

The new molecular repair pathway involves white blood cells called macrophages part of the immune system that respond to tissue injury by producing a protein called Wnt7b. Scientists identified the macrophage-Wnt7b pathway during experiments in mice with induced kidney injury. Wnt7b is already known to be important to the formation of kidney tissues during embryonic organ development. In this study the scientists found the protein helped initiate tissue repair and regeneration in injured kidneys.

"Our findings suggest that by migrating to the injured kidney and producing Wnt7b, macrophages are re-establishing an early molecular program for organ development that also is beneficial to tissue repair," said Dr. Lang. "This study also indicates the pathway may be important to tissue regeneration and repair in other organs."

Wnt7b is part of the Wnt family of pro
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Contact: Nick Miller
nicholas.miller@cchmc.org
513-803-6035
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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