A Moving Meeting Between Scientist and Patient

10/18/2016; 4 minutes

Calcium, the main constituent of bone, turns out to play a major role in regulating the cells that orchestrate bone growth, a finding that could affect treatment for conditions caused by too much collagen deposition, such as fibrosis and excessive scarring, as well as diseases of too little bone growth, such as Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS). The finding by Michael Rape and his colleagues at UC Berkeley came from study of the signals that tell undifferentiated stem cells in the very early embryo to mature into bone cells. As a result, people like Francis Smith, a University of Colorado researcher who visited Rape in his lab, require dozens of surgeries during childhood to reconstruct the face, implant hearing aids and even reconstruct the trachea to breathe normally. Rape hopes that basic research to pinpoint the key signals that trigger proper bone growth can help those like Smith avoid such painful surgeries. (#31543)

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