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Recent developments at the Burnham Institute

New Focus on Childrens Health

Burnham Institute for Medical Research will unveil the new Sanford Childrens Health Research Center at a ceremony on Burnhams campus on Friday, April 25. Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., director of the center, will introduce the newly appointed Sanford Investigators. The center was established to facilitate collaboration between Burnham and Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The center was made possible by a $20 million donation from philanthropist Denny Sanford and facilitated by Sanford Health.

Flies with Heart Disease

Fruit flies may hold the key to understanding heart disease in humans. A new model for the study of dilated cardiomyopathy has been developed by Dr. Rolf Bodmer by knocking out the Distrophin gene in the common fruit fly. The fruit fly model will allow for rapid identification of markers for the disease, as well as testing for potential new therapies.

Controlling Cancer

Dr. John Reed and his graduate student Lorena Puto have identified a new mechanism of epigenetic control of gene expression that may be associated with cancer and neurodegeneration. Epigenetic therapies are already in clinical use for the treatment of cancer, and understanding the mechanisms of epigenetic control of gene expression may help determine which tumors will respond best to an epigenetic therapy.

Of Mice and Men: Mouse model for the study of Muscular Dystrophy

A new mouse model for the study of Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), a type of muscular dystrophy, has been developed by Dr. Zeev Ronai and a worldwide team of researchers. The protein RNF5 is over-produced in the mice, resulting in extensive muscle damage similar to that seen in IBM patients. The IBM mouse model will allow researchers to further study the mechanisms underlying development of the disease, as well as test potential new therapies.

What do Embryonic Placenta Development and Cancer Have in Common?

Dr. Bob Oshimas laboratory has discovered that the same regulatory protein may be responsible for both embryonic placenta development and colon cancer. The protein, called Ets2, reads the genomic instructions to produce certain types of cells, including those responsible for forming the placenta. Ets2 also controls a gene that safeguards against cancer. This discovery may explain a recent finding that Downs syndrome patients have a decreased incidence of colon cancer, as those with Downs syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21 which contains the Ets2 gene.


Contact: Andrea Moser
Burnham Institute

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