Researchers identify stem cell gene with unique role

October 04, 2001

Tampa, FL (October 4, 2001) -- Researchers at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and the University of South Florida have identified a stem cell gene whose expression is shared by both the earliest stem cells--embryonic stem cells--as well as by tissue-specific stem cells in the adult (blood or hematopoietic stem cells).

The finding not only has important implications for our understanding of how stem cells function, but also suggests that these embryonic and adult stem cell types may share key genes and properties--and thus they may be more similar than we realize.

"This gene could play a role in controlling the growth and survival of stem cells in the human body," said William Kerr, Ph.D., associate professor with USF's Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, and an investigator in Moffitt's Immunology Program.

"This is exciting because potentially we could alter the expression or activity of this gene to better control the growth of stem cells, either outside our bodies in tissue culture or in our bodies."

The ability to control the growth of stem cells is currently a very intense area of research, since there are many therapeutic applications for transplantation of stem cells. This has the potential for the controlled growth of stem cells for cancer patients who do not have enough stem cells for a transplant.
The findings were published in the October issue of Blood, a journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Located on the campus of the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center is a world-renowned cancer treatment and research facility. The only National Cancer Institute designated treatment facility in Florida, Moffittís mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

University of South Florida (USF Health)

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