Human embryonic stem cells are not the only cells capable of developing into a wide variety of cell types, which scientists describe as pluripotency. Skin cells can be converted into "induced pluripotent stem cells" or iPS cells, which are believed to have many of the same capabilities as human embryonic stem cells.
If successful, Simmons' strategy could possibly be used to coax iPS cells into becoming HSCs, too. Researchers at UTHealth use human embryonic stem cells approved by the National Institutes of Health.
"This proposal seeks to develop markedly improved strategies to derive HSC from pluripotent stem cells and to further the development of novel cellular therapies for treating blood diseases," Simmons said.
The second research project is led by one of Simmons' colleagues at the UTHealth Centre for Stem Cell Research, associate professor Brian Davis, Ph.D., who along with UTHealth molecular medicine professor Rick Wetsel, Ph.D., is looking into a new way to treat two pediatric lung diseases linked to single gene defects Surfactant Protein B Deficiency and Cystic Fibrosis.
Surfactant is a protein that helps keep lungs inflated and a shortage can lead to severe respiratory disease. Surfactant deficient infants are extremely ill and without neonatal intensive care intervention, including ventilation, they will die shortly after birth. Even with intensive care intervention, these infants may only survive for a short time (weeks to months) if they do not receive a lung transplant.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide), according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce
|Contact: Robert Cahill|
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston