Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Stem Cell Discovery Furthers Research on Cell-Based Therapy and Cancer

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Stem-cell researchers have found a key role for a protein called BMI1 that may help scientists direct the development of tissues to replace damaged organs in the human body.

“Scientists have known that BMI1 is a central control switch within the adult stem cells of many tissues, including the brain, blood, lung and mammary gland,” said Ophir Klein, MD, PhD, who directs the Craniofacial and Mesenchymal Biology (CMB) program and serves as chair of the Division of Craniofacial Anomalies at UCSF. “BMI1 also is a cancer-causing gene that becomes reactivated in cancer cells.”

Klein’s research group now has shown that BMI1 plays another role in ensuring that the process of development unfolds normally.

The hallmarks of all stem cells are that they are immature, they keep dividing to replenish their numbers almost indefinitely, and they generate new specialized cells to function in the tissues in which they reside – a process called cell differentiation.

Pushed in one direction, the BMI1 switch enables normal stem cells to divide and renew their own numbers. Thrown in the other direction, it keeps cell proliferation in check. But now, Klein’s research team has shown that BMI1 also keeps this stock of stem cells from spinning off daughter cells that mature into the wrong type of specialized cell in the wrong place.

The new discovery suggests that manipulating BMI1, along with other regulatory molecules, might one day be among the steps included in molecular recipes to turn specialized cell development on and off to create new cell-based treatments for tissues lost to injury, disease or aging, Klein said.

The dual role of BMI1 also is intriguing to think about in pathological settings, such as cancer, Klein said. Growing evidence suggests that many cancers are driven by abnormally behaving adult stem cells or by cells that have abnormally acquired stem cell-like properties. If these cancerous cells could be made to become specialized cells rather than stem cells when they divide, it might slow tumor growth, some cancer researchers believe. Inactivating BMI1 in cancer stem cells might be one strategy, Klein suggested.

The study by Klein’s research team is published in the July issue of Nature Cell Biology, and was conducted on adult stem cells found in the large incisors of mice.

Mouse Teeth Provide Insight into Stem Cells

Klein, a faculty member of the UCSF School of Dentistry, as well as the School of Medicine, studies teeth, intestines and other tissues to understand the biology and molecular mechanisms that regulate stem cells in these organs. Knowledge gained in these studies can further fuel his specific interest in finding new ways to generate replacement tissue to treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease and craniofacial abnormalities – and to grow new teeth.

The incisor of the mouse, unlike any human tooth, grows continuously, and is an attractive focus for stem cell research, in Klein’s view. “There is a large population of stem cells, and the way the daughter cells of the stem cells are produced is easy to track – it’s as if they are on a conveyor belt,” he said.

Early in life, humans possess stem cells that similarly drive tooth development, but they become inactive after our adult teeth are fully formed during early childhood.

In the current study, postdoctoral fellows Brian Biehs, PhD, and Jimmy Hu, PhD, determined that there is a group of adult stem cells at the base of the growing mouse incisor and that these stem cells possess active BMI1. They showed that BMI1 can suppress a set of genes called Hox genes that, when activated, trigger the development of specific cell types and body structures. In the mouse incisor, the researchers showed that activity of BMI1 in the stem cells maintains their stem cell fate and prevents inappropriate cell differentiation by suppressing the expression of Hox genes.

This essential developmental role of BMI1 in watchdogging the production of specialized cells is likely to have been conserved through evolution, because studies of Hox genes in fruit flies suggests that there may be a similar role for BMI1 in insects as well as mammals, Klein said.

Using the mouse incisor, Klein and his colleagues intend to continue exploring how stem cells and their behaviors are molded in turn by cues they receive from surrounding cells.

“This new knowledge is useful in a fundamental way for understanding how cell differentiation is controlled, and may help us manipulate stem cells to get them to do what we want them to do,” Klein said.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Growing Spinal Disc Tissue
Scientists develop new method for growing spinal disc tissue in the lab for combating chronic back pain.
Friday, July 03, 2015
Grant Supports Creation of Patient-Derived Stem Cell Lines
Researchers have received a two-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging to develop and study patient-derived stem cell lines.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Prostate Cancer Stem Cells are a Moving Target
Researchers have discovered how prostate cancer stem cells evolve as the disease progresses, a finding that could help point the way to more highly targeted therapies.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Researchers Change Cell Types by Flipping a Single Switch
New findings have identified a method for changing one cell type into another in a process called forced transdifferentiation.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Understanding a Protein’s Role in Familial Alzheimer’s
Researchers have used genetic engineering of human iPSC’s to specifically and precisely parse the roles of a key mutated protein in causing familial Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Monday, November 18, 2013
Researchers Un-Junking Junk DNA
A study shines a new light on molecular tools our cells use to govern regulated gene expression.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
$100M gift launches Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center
T. Denny Sanford has committed $100 million to the creation of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at the University of California, San Diego.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Grafted Limb Cells Acquire Molecular ‘Fingerprint’ of New Location
Findings further creation of regenerative therapies for humans.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
From Mature Cells to Embryonic-Like Stem Cells
Bioengineers have shown that physical cues can replace certain chemicals when nudging mature cells back to a pluripotent stage.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Researchers Develop Stem Cell Therapies for Acute Lung Injury
An estimated 200,000 patients a year have acute respiratory failure in the U.S. and mortality is about 30 to 40 percent.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Single Gene Mutation Linked to Neurological Disorders
Mutation could offer insights into Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntigton’s Diseases.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Gene Repair Technique Could Have Many Applications
Using human pluripotent stem cells and DNA-cutting protein from meningitis bacteria, researchers have created an efficient way to target and repair defective genes.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Therapy Could Treat Breast Cancer that's Spread to Brain
Researchers have successfully combined cellular therapy and gene therapy in a mouse-model system to develop a viable treatment strategy for breast cancer that has spread to a patient's brain.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Scientists Streamline Production of Stem Cells
Researchers report a simple, easily reproducible RNA-based method of generating human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
Friday, August 02, 2013
Scientific News
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
'Google Maps' for the Body
Scientists have revealed research that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell that could be a game-changer for medicine.
Adaptimmune's Novel Cancer Therapeutics Show Positive Clinical Trial Results
The company has announced that positive data from its Phase I/II study of its affinity enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO-1 cancer antigen in patients with multiple myeloma has been published.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!