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Notch controls bone formation and strength
Date:2/24/2008

s organisms to maintain a healthy skeleton.

Future studies may look at the possiblity that loss of Notch interferes with the natural signal between osteoblasts and osteoclasts (bone resorbing cells) and prevents the homeostasis or natural balance between the two.

That means the protein Notch and the cellular pathways that express and control it might be targets for drugs to treat bone disorders, said Lee, also a researcher in the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM.

The work demonstrates the importance of going from patients to the laboratory and back again, he said. This study began with patients who suffer from a problem called spondylocostal dysplasia. These children and adults have problems with the pattern of their spine. They have fusions of parts of the spine or ribs. Several years ago, other scientists showed that a mutation of the pathway for Notch causes some of these problems. Our care of these patients suggested to us that Notch may have important function even after the establishment of this initial pattern of the skeleton.

Notch also plays a role in other disorders, including those of the blood and cancer.

Notch is important in the blood system, said Lee. It regulates whether a stem cell becomes a T or a B cell. When Notch is mutated in the blood system, it causes cancer.

That knowledge led him and his colleagues to look at the protein in bone.

This is a complex system and it is why personalized medicine is important, said Lee. By identifying all of the major (cellular) pathways that contribute to a specific trait or feature like bone mass in each person, we could one day develop therapies specific for that person.


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Contact: Glenna Picton
picton@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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