Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Researchers Regrow Hair, Cartilage, Bone, Soft Tissues

Again step by step we are discovering how to restore tissue and this work strongly suggest that the process can even be accelerated.  It is not a done deal yet but there is now plenty of encouragement.

I am expecting that we will achieve a stable cellular age of around thirty years of age and be able to replace damage at will.  It will not prevent us from getting killed but it will eliminate natural mortality until we chose to exit.  The astonishing thing is just how fast this is now shaping up.

In the meantime, applied medical science remains far too conservative and fails us far too often.  To properly survive and prosper, you must take charge of your own health and apply effective tools were possible.

Researchers regrow hair, cartilage, bone, soft tissues

Enhancing cell metabolism was an unexpected key to tissue repair

Contact: Irene Sege  Image George Daly

Young animals are known to repair their tissues effortlessly, but can this capacity be recaptured in adults? A new study from researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children's Hospital suggests that it can. By reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a, which is active in embryonic stem cells, researchers were able to regrow hair and repair cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse model.

The study also found that Lin28a promotes tissue repair in part by enhancing metabolism in mitochondria—the energy-producing engines in cells—suggesting that a mundane cellular "housekeeping" function could open new avenues for developing regenerative treatments. Findings were published online by the journal Cellon November 7.

"Efforts to improve wound healing and tissue repair have mostly failed, but altering metabolism provides a new strategy which we hope will prove successful," says the study's senior investigator George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, director of Boston Children's Stem Cell Transplantation Program and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"Most people would naturally think that growth factors are the major players in wound healing, but we found that the core metabolism of cells is rate-limiting in terms of tissue repair," adds PhD candidate Shyh-Chang Ng, co-first author on the paper with Hao Zhu, MD, both scientists in the Daley Lab. "The enhanced metabolic rate we saw when we reactivated Lin28a is typical of embryos during their rapid growth phase."

Lin28, first discovered in worms, functions in all complex organisms. It is abundant in embryonic stem cells, expressed strongly during early embryo formation and has been used to reprogram skin cells into stem cells. It acts by binding to RNA and regulating how genes are translated into proteins.

To better understand how Lin28a promotes tissue repair, the researchers systematically looked at what specific RNAs it binds to. They initially had their sights on a tiny RNA called Let-7, which is known to promote cell maturation and aging.

"We were confident that Let-7 would be the mechanism," says Shyh-Chang. "But there was something else involved."

Specifically, the researchers found that Lin28a also enhances the production of metabolic enzymes in mitochondria, the structures that produce energy for the cell. By revving up a cell's bioenergetics, they found, Lin28a helps generate the energy needed to stimulate and grow new tissues.

"We already know that accumulated defects in mitochondrial metabolism can lead to aging in many cells and tissues," says Shyh-Chang. "We are showing the converse—that enhancement of mitochondrial metabolism can boost tissue repair and regeneration, recapturing the remarkable repair capacity of juvenile animals."

Further experiments showed that bypassing Lin28a and directly activating mitochondrial metabolism with a small-molecule compound also had the effect of enhancing wound healing. This suggests the possibility of inducing regeneration and promoting tissue repair with drugs.

"Since Lin28 itself is difficult to introduce into cells, the fact that we were able to activate mitochondrial metabolism pharmacologically gives us hope," Shyh-Chang says.

Lin28A didn't universally induce regeneration in all tissues. Heart tissue showed little effect, and while the researchers were able to enhance the regrowth of finger tips in newborn mice, they could not in adults.

"Lin28a could be a key factor in constituting a healing cocktail," says Shyh-Chang, "but there are other embryonic factors that remain to be found."


The study was supported by an A*STAR National Science Scholarship, a Graduate Training in Cancer Research Grant, an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, a National Institutes of Health K08 grant, CPRIT, a Herchel Smith Graduate Fellowship, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research.

Boston Children's Hospital is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children's today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Boston Children's is also the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about research and clinical innovation at Boston Children's, visit: http://vectorblog.org.

'Fountain of youth' gene is discovered - and scientists say it could help heal wounds 

The gene, Lin28a, is highly active in unborn children, but does less with age

Harvard researchers now hope that waking the gene up in adults could speed healing of wounds after operations

They say it may also be possible to create a drug that works in the same way

PUBLISHED: 17:06 GMT, 7 November 2013

A ‘fountain of youth gene’ has been identified by scientists.

Experts have long been puzzled as to why young animals recover from injuries more quickly than adults. 

The gene, Lin28a, is highly active in unborn children, but does less and less with age.

A 'fountain of youth gene' has been identified by scientists and helps explain why young people recover more quickly from injuries than adults

In tests on mice, it quickened the healing of wounds and sped up regrowth after a patch of fur was shaved.

It also helped repair tissues in the ear after they were injured.

Lin28a achieved all of these effects by increasing the production of several metabolic enzymes and enhancing metabolic processes that are normally more active in embryos.

The Harvard Medical School scientists hope that waking the gene up in the adult body could speed up the healing of wounds after operations.

Researcher George Daley said it may be possible to produce a drug that has the same effect as the gene.

He added: ‘It sounds like science fiction but Lin28a could be part of a healing cocktail that gives adults the superior tissue repair seen in juvenile animals.’

He said: ‘Why some animals can fully regenerate organs when others cannot is a longstanding mystery of biology.

‘Our studies support the concept that mammalian tissue repair can be substantially improved by engineering the reactivation of genes that regulate juvenile developmental stages.’ 
The research is published in the journal Cell. 

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