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UTHealth stem cell scientists explore treatments for blood disorders and lung diseases
Date:4/12/2010

Stem cell scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) were awarded stimulus grants totaling almost $2 million to research experimental treatments for blood disorders and inherited lung diseases affecting children.

The scientists received two of only seven National Institutes of Health Challenge (RC1) Grants for human embryonic stem-cell-related research awarded across the nation by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The two-year Challenge grants are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and are designed to support research that should have a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.

Researchers are on the faculty of the UTHealth Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM), a research institute that seeks to investigate the cause of human diseases at the cellular and molecular levels using DNA and protein technologies to elucidate disease mechanisms.

The first research project is led by Paul Simmons, Ph.D., professor and director of the UTHealth Centre for Stem Cell Research, and is designed to address the shortage of a specific type of blood-forming stem cell used in the treatment of cancers of the blood and some inherited blood disorders.

These cells are called hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and are killed as a consequence of chemotherapy or radiation. While they can be replaced with cells harvested from tissue-matched bone marrow, peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood, a very significant impediment continues to be the availability of appropriate tissue-matched HSC from these three sources, said Simmons, who is a past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Simmons' proposed solution to this problem is to use human embryonic stem cells to create a new source of HSCs. Much more versatile than adult stem cells, human embryonic stem cells
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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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