Navigation Links
Shock tactics: Bioelectrical therapy for cancer and birth defects?
Date:10/18/2010

Stem cell therapies hold increasing promise as a cure for multiple diseases. But the massive potential of a healthy stem cell has a flip side, as faulty regulation of stem cells leads to a huge range of human diseases. Even before birth, mistakes made by the stem cells of the foetus are a major cause of congenital defects, and cancer is also caused by the body losing control of stem cell function. Guiding stem cells along the correct pathways and, where necessary, reversing their mistakes is the goal of everyone in this field. Now, Michael Levin (http://www.drmichaellevin.org/) and colleagues from Tufts University (http://www.tufts.edu/), Medford, MA, have identified a novel and readily modifiable signal by which an organism can control the behaviour of stem cell offspring. Their work is published in Disease Models & Mechanisms on October 19th, 2010, at http://dmm.biologists.org/.

Levin's laboratory works on an intriguing phenomenon: bioelectrical signalling. There is always a difference in voltage, called the transmembrane potential, between the inside and outside of all cells, and controlling exactly what this difference is turns out to be vitally important. Specialised protein checkpoints sited in a cell's outer membrane regulate ion flow in and out of the cell, producing voltage gradients. These, combined with more conventional protein-based signalling systems, can specify cell destiny.

Levin's team already knew from collaborative work with David Kaplan's lab, also at Tufts, that the properties of human stem cells growing in artificial culture could be drastically altered by changing their transmembrane potential. Now they have taken this work one important step further, by asking whether tampering with the transmembrane potential of one kind of cell can have a domino effect in a whole organism, altering the destiny of other cell types. To do this, they focused on the development of neural crest stem cells, which are responsible for directing development of the face and heart, but which also generate melanocytes, the pigment cells of the skin. Using frog tadpoles and melanocytes as a model system, they showed that tweaking the transmembrane potential of a tiny population of 'instructor' cells sends a signal to developing melanocytes that causes them to overgrow and start to resemble metastatic cancer cells. Most excitingly, they found that the signal can travel over long distances in the tadpole, and that the messenger carrying it is serotonin an important neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and many other aspects of nervous system function.

This novel bioelectrical method of changing stem cell behaviour has huge implications. It is very likely that there are similar 'instructor' cells that direct other important cell populations, and changing their voltage gradients would be relatively easy (Levin's lab simply used an anti-parasitic drug already available on prescription). The resulting bioelectrical therapy could potentially be harnessed to improve regenerative repair after injury, repair birth defects and detect and prevent cancer.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sarah Allan
sarah.allan@biologists.com
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Molecular mechanism of anaphylactic shock decoded
2. Shock and kill research gives new hope for HIV-1 eradication
3. Targeting helpers of heat shock proteins could help treat cancer, cardiovascular disease
4. Septic shock: Nitric oxide beneficial after all
5. Kapahi to receive GSAs 2010 Nathan Shock New Investigator Award
6. Breast cancer cells recycle to escape death by hormonal therapy
7. On the trail of a targeted therapy for blood cancers
8. Researchers identify promising gene target for neuroblastoma therapy
9. Gene therapy restores vision to mice with retinal degeneration
10. How eating fruit and vegetables can improve cancer patients response to chemotherapy
11. Researchers at UH explore use of fat cells as heart attack therapy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 The ... Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, ... Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion ... and 2022. The base year considered for the study ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 24, 2017 The Controller General of Immigration from ... Abdulla Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the ... Continue Reading ... ... Controller Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by Technology (Touch-based ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD ... 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. ... Cancer Research, London (ICR) and University ... SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma ... MUK nine . The University of Leeds ... partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to ... period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced ... at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... residential home security market and how smart safety and security products impact ... Parks Associates: Smart Home ... "The residential security market has ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech ... biological mechanism by which its ProCell stem cell ... critical limb ischemia.  The Company, demonstrated that treatment ... amount of limbs saved as compared to standard ... the molecule HGF resulted in reduction of therapeutic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: