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Thursday 21 August 2014

Trinity scientists map genes to grow bones

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 07/03/2014 | 02:30

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SCIENTISTS in Ireland have identified genes that could help to grow bones and cartilage to aid people whose movements are impaired.

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Zoologists and bio-engineers from Trinity College have identified more than 1,000 of these genes, and the discovery may help scientists better understand how important tissues are programmed to develop in humans.

The research may help understanding of how stem cells can be primed for use in tissue engineering and regenerative therapies.

The collaborative research conducted in the School of Natural Sciences and Trinity Centre for Bio-engineering is addressing how the movement of embryos influences bone and joint development.

Development biologist and associate professor of zoology Paula Murphy said: "Why do babies move about so much while they are developing in the womb, particularly flexing their arms and legs?

"We know that if they don't move enough, they are born with skeletal problems such as thin, fragile bones.

"Highly regulated signalling systems are needed for Mother Nature to follow the complex 'recipes' of genetic expression that enable the development of normal skeletons.

"What often surprises people is that mechanical signals also feed in to these signalling systems, and it is the movement of an embryo that sparks these," Ms Murphy added.

The research was recently published in the leading journal 'BMC Genomics'.

Prof Murphy added: "If we can better understand the signalling processes involved, we might guide development of stable bone and cartilage tissues for use in regenerative therapies."

Irish Independent

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