APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Orthopedic repair (tendons / ligaments)
- Cancer therapeutics
- Drug development
- Enhanced speed and durability of repairs to wounded tendon tissue
- Alters behavior of cancer cells; restores differentiation and organization
- Potential for drugs with limited side effects
- Cell density regulation is cell type specific
A Berkeley Lab research team led by Richard Schwarz has identified a small phospholipid molecule that helps guide the formation of embryonic tendons and ligaments. Experiments suggest this lipid bound to its protein partner could be used to promote the repair of tendons and ligaments in juveniles and adults by manipulating the apparent cell density.
These unique and highly specific signaling complexes have also been shown to promote differentiation and organization in cancerous tissues, which are notable for their loss of sensitivity to cell density regulation and their lack of differentiation and organization. Thus, using the right signaling molecules can push malignant cells in a stable direction, suggesting an avenue for controlling malignancy without killing cancerous cells.
The gene that expresses this unique small protein partner is highly conserved in chickens, mice, and humans. The lipid cofactor is an essential component of a distinct, molecular signal that communicates cell density to collagen-producing cells during the formation of tendon or ligament tissue. The Berkeley Lab researchers determined that the lipid is a cofactor that tightly binds to a small protein previously linked to tendon morphogenesis. The signal from this protein/lipid combination is highly specific and allows cells to communicate their presence to others. The concentrations of these signals are linked to the proliferation and production of collagen, the fibrous protein of which ~90 percent of tendon tissue is comprised. Use of these signals may allow adult cells to recapitulate the embryonic processes in tendon and ligament development to restore damaged tissue.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Purified lipid cofactor molecule identified. Cell density protein partner previously identified and characterized.
STATUS: Patent pending for lipid cofactor. U. S. Patent No. 6,433,136, available at www.uspto.gov, for cell density protein partner. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-3190