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Stem cell research leads to potential new therapy for rare blood disorder
Date:4/7/2008

e University of Michigan, Stanford and Harvard University Schools of Medicine.

A patient with MPD makes too many blood cells, caused by a mutation expressed in the stem cell, the early stage cell that goes on to differentiate to become either red or white blood cells. In 2006, Jamieson was first author on a paper published in PNAS, outlining the discovery that a mutation in the JAK2 signaling pathway in patients with a type of MPD called polycythemia vera (PV) allows cells to bypass the process which would normally regulate the production of red blood cells. As a result of this defect, the bone marrow produces excessive numbers of red blood cells.

In the current research described in Cancer Cell, the UCSD School of Medicine researchers and collaborators transferred human cord blood stem cells, engineered to contain the mutant JAK2 gene, into mouse models with a suppressed immune system to find whether over-expression of a single gene could drive, or initiate, the disease. These stem cells were introduced directly into the liver, the main site of blood development in the newborn mouse. As a result, the stem cells over-expressing the mutant gene led to overproduction of human red blood cells, and the mice developed a disease that looked like PV.

The researchers corroborated these results by injecting actual stem cells from patients with PV into the same mouse model, achieving similar results. We found that the JAK2 mutation was necessary and sufficient, by itself, to drive the disease, Jamieson said.

Theorizing that blocking this mutation would prevent overproduction of red blood cells, TargeGen developed a selective JAK2 inhibitor called TG101348. This therapy was shown in animal studies to halt over-expression of the gene and reverse excessive production of red blood cells. Because TG101348 selectively targets the JAK2 protein that causes the disease, side effects have been minimized.

Pre-clinical testing at the UCS
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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