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UCSF Scientists Report On A Transcription Factor That Could Stimulate Heart Cells To Repair Damage Caused By Heart Attacks Or Birth Defects

Scientists at the University of California San Francisco have discovered a transcription factor that regulates part of the cycle that makes new copies of the cells in the human body. As more specifics are identified about the role of this and related cell cycle regulators, the knowledge may lead to new ways to stimulate repair of heart muscle cells after damage caused by a heart attack or birth defects.

Harold S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and investigator at the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute, reported on his research group's discoveries about human Cdc5 (hCdc5) on May 2 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' 1999 annual meeting in San Francisco.

The research, supported in part by the March of Dimes, is in its early stages. "The reason we are so interested in the cell cycle is that we need better treatments for children whose heart muscle is damaged due to heart abnormalities -- the most common form of birth defect." Bernstein said. If the work leads to a way to stimulate heart muscle repair, it also could help the 900,000 American adults struck with a heart attack each year. And because hCdc5 appears to regulate a crucial point in the cycle when cell duplication either halts or continues, knowledge about its actions could uncover potential new targets for drugs to stop the uncontrolled cell division in cancer.

Using recombinant DNA techniques, Bernstein cloned hCdc5 in 1997 and showed that it is a novel human protein involved in the division of human cells. Since then, he and his research team have shown that it binds to DNA and acts as a transcription factor -- it regulates genes that instruct a cell to start the final phase of cell division. Bernstein and the University of California have obtained a patent protecting the use of hCdc5 for therapeutic approaches to cancer and muscle disease.

In their presentation to the Society for Pediatric Research, Bernstein's team reports on work to identify specific sites
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Contact: Janet Basu
jbasu@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
3-May-1999


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