Scientist discovers stem cell ‘partnership’ that could advance regenerative medicine

August 17, 2010

(ChattahBox) — A study led by a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has revealed a unique “partnership” between two types of bone marrow stem cells, which could lead to advances in regenerative medicine. The aim of regenerative medicine is to enable the body to repair, replace, restore or regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs.

The study was led by Paul Frenette, M.D., the new director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein. Dr. Frenette conducted the research while at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the bone marrow perform the vital task of producing all blood cells in the human body. Now, the new study, published in the August 12 issue of Nature, has revealed that HSCs pair up in the bone marrow with another type of stem cells, known as mesenchymal stem cells, which give rise to bone, cartilage, fat and other tissues. This pairing, the research shows, form a unique stem cell “partnership” that could lead to advances in regenerative medicine.

The identity of cells in close proximity to HSCs had been a matter of dispute. Dr. Frenette and his team not only found that HSCs and mesenchymal stem cells partner physically with each other, but they also showed that the two types of stem cells interact in crucially important ways. Mesenchymal cells, for example, were found to be necessary for keeping HSCs in the bone marrow alive.

“We think that these mesenchymal stem cells are a very important component of the stem cell niche in the bone marrow,” said Dr. Frenette. “These cells likely play important roles in stem cell maintenance, movement, and regeneration of the bone marrow. Further studies into their functions might allow us to maintain healthy stem cells and develop new methods to expand them for clinical use.”

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In addition to Dr. Frenette’s former colleagues at Mt. Sinai, other scientists involved in the study are from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring, NY and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Einstein is home to 722 M.D. students, 243 Ph.D. students, 128 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and approximately 350 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,775 fulltime faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2009, Einstein received more than $155 million in support from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Through its extensive affiliation network involving five medical centers in the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island – which includes Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein – the College of Medicine runs one of the largest post-graduate medical training programs in the United States, offering approximately 150 residency programs to more than 2,500 physicians in training. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu


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