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University of Michigan stem cell research has implications for anti-cancer treatments

U-M researchers observe changes in cell development

Observations from the recently published study could have implications in anti-cancer treatments.
Observations from the recently published study could have implications in anti-cancer treatments. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently published an article highlighting new ways of development in stem cells.

Lead by Rajesh C. Rao, M.D., an assistant professor in the departments of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and Pathology at the U-M, the research team was looking into how specific “organoid” tissues developing in embryos can be manipulated.

Focusing on two proteins, WDR5 and p53, the researchers looked into how modifications made to chromatin -- the mixture of DNA, RNA and proteins encasing chromosomes -- and transcription factors guide the development of stem cells. The two proteins regularly interact, as WDR5 regulates p53 in various ways..

Through using mouse embryonic stem cells, the team found that by delaying WDR5, cells emerging from stem cells, developed from possible nervous system tissues into mesodern -- an embryonic layer that develops into skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, smooth muscle and red blood cells.

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Through a broader scope, the observations have implications in anti-cancer treatments as the p53 protein is often used in studies related to cancer while WDR5 is currently being investigated as a cancer treatment.

The study may also shed light on WDR5 inhibitors, which are used as anti-cancer drugs.

Those interested in the published study, titled “p53 Integrates Temporal WDR5 Inputs during Neuroectoderm and Mesoderm Differentiation of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells” can find it in the publication, Cell Reports.

The U-M research was supported by various organizations and funds, such as the U-M Rogel Cancer Center, the U-M Taubman Institute, the U-M Kellogg Eye Center and National Eye Institute.