Better understanding the natural course of how stem cells live and die is the place researchers will start, says Dr. Carlos M. Isales, endocrinologist and chief of the new program in the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics.
"We want to learn more about stem cells over the lifetime of a human and why they seem to quit working as we age," says Dr. Isales of the multidisciplinary, multi-institutional group he's putting together. "Is it because the stem cells are becoming depleted. Is it because stem cells are dying out and not being replaced? Is it because you have other hormones being produced that interfere with the action of stem cells?"
To pursue answers, the program's growing faculty cuts across MCG schools as well as other universities and facilities to include MCG Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the University of Georgia, the University of South Carolina, Savannah River National Laboratory and Fort Gordon. The group includes both clinicians and basic researchers working together to develop new approaches to treating common diseases. That group is now meeting weekly, preparing to apply for a Program Project grant from the National Institutes of Health which already has a name: "Molecular Mechanisms of Tissue Repair With Aging."
Stem cells are relatively few in number and difficult to track in the body, so researchers will isolate cells from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow and fat and study them in vitro, Dr. Isales says. They also will examine the cells in tissue of different ages to see how they change and what responses generate new cells. "Maybe as cells age, they lose their ability to respond to vibration," he says. "Each time you walk, for example, you are generating a vibration to your bone that helps
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia