Ottawa scientists hack our body’s proteins to create a powerful new drug - Macleans.ca
 

Ottawa scientists hack our body’s proteins to create a powerful new drug

A new milestone in the booming field of regenerative medicine


 

Ottawa scientists have transformed one of the body’s natural proteins into what could become the basis for a powerful drug—one with the potential to treat a range of muscle-wasting diseases, according to Dr. Michael Rudnicki of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, who led the research. It’s the latest milestone in the booming field of regenerative medicine, which aims to use the body’s own building blocks to fix what ails us. “A new wave of therapeutics will be entering the clinic,” Rudnicki says, “drugs and proteins that target stem cells, and stimulate repair.” It’s happening already.

Rudnicki’s team targeted a protein called Wnt7a, part of a family of proteins that stimulates stem cells and promotes tissue regeneration. “This class of protein is quite difficult to work with,” says Rudnicki, who’s also a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa, and has been tackling this for several years. “It’s difficult to manufacture,” a necessary step before it can be used to treat patients, “and difficult to disperse through the body.” Rudnicki and colleagues discovered that one small portion of this protein—just 130 amino acids long—packs just as much regenerative power as the entire thing, while doing away with longstanding challenges. “This raises the possibility it can be used in the clinic.”

Those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an inherited disorder that affects about 1 in 3,500 boys, could be among the first to benefit. “We think that by stimulating repair in its early stages, we can delay the downward spiral where muscle tissue is lost,” he says. Such a drug could provide a better quality of life for patients. “It won’t cure the disease,” he says, “but conceivably, it could make it chronic, rather than fatal.” Other muscle-wasting diseases could be targeted, too, from other genetic conditions to the muscle loss that occurs in some forms of cancer, maybe even age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, although that has yet to be tested in mice (let alone humans).

Clinical trials in humans should begin within a few years, led by Fate Therapeutics, a public company where Rudnicki is co-founding scientist. The field of regenerative medicine is “approaching a tilting point,” he says. “It will transform the practice of medicine, within our lifetimes.”


 

Ottawa scientists hack our body’s proteins to create a powerful new drug

  1. Very nice to see this. I wonder if it can be used for regrowing skin to help people with burns, or even something like surgery scars and stretch marks.

    • You can get bio-oil….it works well, and is quite reasonable.

  2. Now THIS is where our money should be going. R&D.

    Make science, not war.

    • There’s a lot more science in war than you imagine.

      • A lot more death too.

        • Not that much death these days.

          Compared to any decade of the last two centuries, the first decade of this millennium has had fewer civilian and military casualties and much less destruction of property due to war.

          Things are looking up.

          Adaptive optics, disposable diapers, and a host of other items came out of recent wars.

          • The first disposable diaper was invented and patented in 1948[14] by Valerie Hunter Gordon (née de Ferranti),[15] granddaughter of inventor Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti.

            >>>>

            Adaptive optics was first envisioned by Horace W. Babcock in 1953,[5] and was also considered in science fiction, as in Poul Anderson’s novel Tau Zero
            (1970), but it did not come into common usage until advances in
            computer technology during the 1990s made the technique practical.

            Some of the initial development work on adaptive optics was done by the US military during the Cold War and was intended for use in tracking Soviet satellites.[6]

            Or…..we could just do R&D in space and labs

          • The first practical disposable diaper, and the type we use today, came out of the Apollo program, an extension of the US cold war efforts.

            The adaptive optics was first installed on the US Navy’s Big Bird surveillance satellites, another cold war effort.

            Its declassification after the collapse of the USSR led to a revolution in astronomy.

            But there’s no way that the money would have found its way to the astronomers if not for the spying.

          • So you don’t believe the US landed on the moon?

            Figures.

          • You’re making no sense again, Emily.

          • It’s your theory not mine.

          • Of course the yanks landed on the moon. Several times,

            Why would you imagine otherwise?

          • ‘the Apollo program, an extension of the US cold war efforts.’

          • The question was one of why you would imagine that the US did not land on the moon.

          • You thought the moon landing was just another cold war effort….I did not.

            Goodness you get confused easily

          • You wander off in confused and pointless directions.

            Of course the moon landings were part of the cold war effort.

            That’s why they were funded so heavily.

            And the yanks learned a host of valuable things about men working in space, about linking up spacecraft, about the tools and equipment modifications that would be necessary to operate weapons platforms in space, as well as more mundane things like repairing spy systems.

            Plus of course if they weren’t trying to beat the Soviets, the public would not support the program, and indeed after they’d been beat, and after as much as possible had been learned of operating the craft, the Apollo program’s funding dried up.

            But thinking that the yanks did not land on the moon is just a crazy idea, Emily.

          • Xmas is coming up. Make a point of talking to your family.

            Write it down.

          • Heh heh heh… I have the impression you think you’re trying to insult me again.

            That hardly contributes to your credibility, on top of all the other nonsense.

          • No, I’m trying to help what sounds like an elderly man in the first stages of confusion.

            If I had wanted to insult you, you’d be on the floor.

          • Heh heh heh… you’re the one who keeps wandering off into non-sequituri, not I.

    • science helped create nuclear bombs. DNA splicing can also be used to create weapons and accidents. This sort of “science” also contains dangers… already not hard to modify bird flu to be deadly plague, at some point scientists may be able to create a cocktail of germs that will kill billions of people in matter of days.

      • Anything can be used as a weapon.

        Now we’ve settled that….let’s give up war and go for R&D

  3. The only way to foster true healing is to trigger an adaptive response in the body rather than trying to suppress symptoms, which is the focus of all current drug therapies. It’s about time mainstream medicine headed down this road because Homeopathy has been doing this for over 200 years.

    • Homeopathy has been leading people to their deaths for longer than that.

      • Nonsense.

        • Death from lack of real medical attention is still death.

          True, much medical attention of 300 plus years ago was no better, but not much worse.

          • If you are referring to conventional drug based medicine it kills over 35,000 people a year in Canada and about 3 times that in the U.S. annually. Read Gary Null’s “Death by Medicine”. Is that real enough for you?

          • It’s hardly probative to read quack propaganda.

            A lot of people have made a lot of money on quackery over the centuries, and there’s a sucker born every minute.

          • It’s hardly probative to slander everything that doesn’t agree with your bias.
            The pharmaceutical industry makes more $$ than all the other Fortune 500 companies combined. It’s the ultimate quackery.

          • homeopathy has worked for over 2000 years & then disappeared almost completely, due to pharmaceuticals & now are finally making a come back, due to a incompetent & flooded medical system. With some therapies not wanting to be acknowledged & accused of quackery, yet it is what helped people to survive their pains & help with healing (acupuncture is what was able to help me get walking, yet every narcotic, anti-imflammatory, etc did nothing for me over 2 months, and my dr, who is also a friend of mine whom I work with in emergency services, told me the other option I could try was acupuncture, but its not covered, anyways, he did it & within 3 hours, I could lift my foot 1′ off the ground!!, then after a couple more hours, I was able to walk, including up & down stairs!)
            I have also been battling health problems since 2008 & have had countless poking & proding, feeling like a guinea pig, not seeking any kind of relief & finally now, finding out I have a auto-immune disorder, but still not getting relief for other symptons & getting prescribed for countless types of prescriptions to help cover my symptons, knowing that its not addressing the problem straight forward, Im getting to the point that I will soon turn completely away from the main stream of medical services, because obviously its not helping. Maybe we are all just being test subjects still? I dont know, but I know they are constantly changing names of certain drugs, while taking some off the market completely when they even work (makes u think they know it causes something, but its not disclose), yeah homeopathy is quackery & medicine is god. Yeah right! Its all backwards!
            Acupuncture & homeopathy is the next big medicine, because it works!
            This isnt quackery! I hope you never have to seek outside help for whatever ails you & you can just stick with the pharaceuticals :-)