Team sheds light on stem cells
Aug 28, 2007 3:00 AM (2 days ago)
by Karl B. Hille, The Examiner
Before most stem cell therapies can be practical, science must find an answer to that conundrum. This week, researchers at Johns Hopkins University came one step closer, identifying one of the first switches that limits adult neural stem cells.
“Right now our understanding of that process in terms of being able to direct that process, is really very limited,” said Nicholas Gaiano, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.
Gaiano reported on a genetic switch that transforms base neural stem cells into more restricted “progenitor” cells in this week’s journal Nature. Scientists so far have been limited to allowing stem cells to divide, and separating needed tissue types from the dross, he said.
People who read this also read:
Dickey: Warriors can’t let Nelson get away
Garcia: Fisher is king of his art
U.S. Stock Futures Pointed Lower
Iraqi Warns Against 'Magical' Fixes
Stephen Bainbridge: Libertarians, conservatives part on animal cruelty laws
Working with embryonic mouse brains, Gaiano’s team showed that a specific protein may prevent neural stem cells from taking their first step toward becoming neurons.
Like permanently closing one of the blades on the knife, they found eliminating a protein called DBF1 affected a well-known protein reaction called Notch — which is involved in stem cell differentiation. They could not coax the cell back into a stem cell state, Gaiano’s team reported.
The discovery is one step along the way to making stem cell research more predictable — and the vision of stem-cell therapy one step closer to reality, Gaiano said. “The difference between trial and error and really understanding what can happen is like hitting pay dirt in terms of being able to do useful things with those cells.”
It’s a question affecting more than $250 million in research money from the federal government, according to the White House.
The Notch reaction is common to other stem cell types, including blood stem cells, he said, as well as many cancer tissues. Better understanding the effects of DBF1 could lead to breakthroughs in many fields.
http://www.examiner.com/a-903175~Team_s ... cells.html