Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Uncovers On-and-Off Switch for Adult Stem Cells

By Record, Journal | THE JOURNAL RECORD, October 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Uncovers On-and-Off Switch for Adult Stem Cells


Record, Journal, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have discovered a protein that acts as a gas pedal and brake for so- called "adult" stem cells. The findings, which appear in the current issue of the scientific journal Blood, could have important treatment implications for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

"This work has a great deal of therapeutic potential," said Xiao- Hong Sun, the senior author of the paper. "If we can translate the basic research into a method of regulating adult stem cells in humans, it could spell better outcomes for cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, for leukemia patients undergoing bone marrow transplants, and also for those who suffer from immune deficiencies."

Using "knock-in" mice - rodents that have been genetically modified with an additional gene - OMRF researchers discovered that a certain protein controls the proliferation of marrow or "adult" stem cells. These undifferentiated cells spend most of their existence in a slumber-like state in the bone marrow. However, as Sun and her OMRF colleagues discovered, when the body produces the protein, it kicks the stem cells into action, keying their transformation into mature, infection-fighting blood cells. …

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