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Embryonic stem cells help deliver 'good genes' in a model of inherited blood disorder
Date:1/10/2011

Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital report a gene therapy strategy that improves the condition of a mouse model of an inherited blood disorder, Beta Thalassemia. The gene correction involves using unfertilized eggs from afflicted mice to produce a batch of embryonic stem cell lines. Some of these stem cell lines do not inherit the disease gene and can thus be used for transplantation-based treatments of the same mice. Findings could hold promise for a new treatment strategy for autosomal dominant diseases like certain forms of Beta Thalassemia, tuberous sclerosis or Huntington's disease.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to produce unlimited quantities of any cell type and are therefore being explored as a new therapeutic option for many diseases. Unfertilized eggs can be cultured to form embryonic stem cells, so-called parthenogenetic embryonic stem cells.

"Parthenogenetic embryonic stem cells can differentiate into multiple tissue types as do stem cells from fertilized embryos," said K. John McLaughlin, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Molecular and Human Genetics at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Previously, the group demonstrated that blood cells derived from parthenogenetic cells could provide healthy, long-term blood replacement in mice.

"Advantages of parthenogenetic stem cells are not only that fertilization is not needed, but also that the recipient's immune system may potentially not view them as foreign, minimizing rejection problems. Furthermore, since parthenogenetic embryonic stem cells are derived from reproductive cells which contain only a single set of the genetic information instead of the double set present in body cells, they may not contain certain abnormal genes present in the other copy," said Dr. McLaughlin also one of the study authors.

A single copy of an abnormal gene inherited from one parent can cause so-called autosomal dominant disea
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Contact: Erin Pope
Erin.Pope@NationwideChildrens.org
614-355-0495
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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