Cancer drug activates adult stem cells

January 28, 2008

The use of a drug used in cancer treatment activates stem cells that differentiate into bone appears to cause regeneration of bone tissue and be may be a potential treatment strategy for osteoporosis, according to a report in the February 2008 Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The study – led by Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers– found that treatment with a medication used to treat bone marrow cancer improved bone density in a mouse model of osteoporosis, apparently through its effect on the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that differentiate into several types of tissues.

“Stem cell therapies are often thought of as putting new cells into the body, but this study suggests that medications can turn on existing stem cells that reside in the body’s tissues, acting as regenerative medicines to enhance the body’s own repair mechanisms,” says David Scadden, a hematologist-oncologist who is co-director of HSCI and director of the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine. “Drugs that direct immature cells to become a particular cell type, as in this study, could potentially be very useful.”

The study was designed to examine whether the drug bortezamib (Bzb), which can alleviate bone destruction associated with the cancer multiple myeloma, could also regenerate bone damaged by non-cancerous conditions. In their first experiments, the researchers showed that treating mice with Bzb increased several factors associated with bone formation. Similar results were seen when cultured MSCs were treated with Bzb, but not when the drug was applied to cells that were committed to become particular cell types. Found in the bone marrow, MSCs have the potential to develop into the bone-building osteoblasts and several other types of cells – including cartilage, fat, skin and muscle.

Subsequent experiments supported the hypothesis that Bzb increases osteoblast activity and bone formation by acting on MSCs, but not on more differentiated osteoblast precursors. Use of Bzb to treat a mouse model of menopausal osteoporosis produced significant improvements in bone formation and density. Since current treatments for osteoporosis – which target differentiated cells like osteoblasts and the osteoclasts that break down bone – have limitations, the ability to direct differentiation of MSCs could be a promising approach to treating osteoporosis and cancer-associated bone loss, the researchers note.

“If the paradigm displayed in this study holds true for other tissues, we may have options for repairing and regenerating sites affected by injury or disease with medications – that would be pretty exciting.” says Scadden, who is the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, of the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) and HSCI is lead author of the study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Explore further: Gene therapy improves immunity in babies with 'bubble boy' disease

Related Stories

Gene therapy improves immunity in babies with 'bubble boy' disease

December 9, 2017
Early evidence suggests that gene therapy developed at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will lead to broad protection for infants with the devastating immune disorder X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency disorder. ...

CAR T, immunotherapy bring new hope for multiple myeloma patients

December 11, 2017
Two investigational immunotherapy approaches, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, have shown encouraging results in the treatment of multiple myeloma patients who had relapsed and were resistant to other ...

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts

December 12, 2017
Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of Penn State engineers believe they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue ...

Immunotherapy drug nearly eliminates severe acute graft-versus-host disease

December 9, 2017
Results from a phase 2 clinical trial, presented by Seattle Children's Research Institute at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, show that the drug Abatacept (Orencia) nearly eliminated life-threatening ...

Landmark CAR-T cancer study published

December 10, 2017
Loyola University Medical Center is the only Chicago center that participated in the pivotal clinical trial of a groundbreaking cancer treatment that genetically engineers a patient's immune system to attack cancer cells.

Novel harvesting method rapidly produces superior stem cells for transplantation

December 7, 2017
A new method of harvesting stem cells for bone marrow transplantation - developed by a team of investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute - appears to accomplish ...

Recommended for you

How defeating THOR could bring a hammer down on cancer

December 14, 2017
It turns out Thor, the Norse god of thunder and the Marvel superhero, has special powers when it comes to cancer too.

Researchers track muscle stem cell dynamics in response to injury and aging

December 14, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes the biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury. The findings, published in Cell Stem Cell, ...

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Time of day affects severity of autoimmune disease

December 12, 2017
Insights into how the body clock and time of day influence immune responses are revealed today in a study published in leading international journal Nature Communications. Understanding the effect of the interplay between ...

Estrogen discovery could shed new light on fertility problems

December 12, 2017
Estrogen produced in the brain is necessary for ovulation in monkeys, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have upended the traditional understanding of the hormonal cascade that leads to release ...

Team identifies DNA element that may cause rare movement disorder

December 11, 2017
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has identified a specific genetic change that may be the cause of a rare but severe neurological disorder called X-linked dystonia parkinsonism (XDP). Occurring only ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.