Tag: Jaenisch Lab

Whitehead Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch

Whitehead’s Rudolf Jaenisch honored with March of Dimes Prize

April 27, 2015

The prize honors Jaenisch’s groundbreaking body of work in epigenetics, the development of transgenic animals, and the generation and use of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

Family of neural-associated RNA-binding proteins found to regulate cell state in breast cancer

December 15, 2014

A widely conserved family of RNA-binding proteins known to be expressed in neural stem cells and other stem cell types has now been shown to play a role in controlling both the state and behavior of breast cancer cells.

Schematic depicting creation of stable induced neural stem cells (iNSCs)

Direct generation of neural stem cells could enable transplantation therapy

November 6, 2014

Induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) hold promise for therapeutic transplantation, but their potential in this capacity has been limited by failed efforts to maintain such cells in their multi-potent NSC state. Now, Whitehead Institute scientists have created iNSCs that remain in the multi-potent state—without ongoing expression of reprogramming factors. This allows the iNSCs to self-renew repeatedly to generate cells in quantities sufficient for therapy.

Diagram of reprogramming factors in SNEL

New reprogramming factor cocktail produces therapy-grade induced pluripotent stem cells

September 4, 2014

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may hold the potential to cure damaged nerves, regrow limbs and organs, and perfectly model a patient’s particular disease. Yet these cells can acquire serious genetic and epigenetic abnormalities that lower the cells’ quality and limit their therapeutic usefulness. Now Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a cocktail of reprogramming factors that produces very high quality iPSCs.

Phase and fluorescence images of conventional (primed) human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and naïve human ESCs

Whitehead Institute researchers create “naïve” pluripotent human embryonic stem cells

July 24, 2014

Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has been hampered by the inability to transfer research and tools from mouse ESC studies to their human counterparts, in part because human ESCs are “primed” and slightly less plastic than the mouse cells. Now researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch have discovered how to manipulate and maintain human ESCs into a “naïve” or base pluripotent state similar to that of mouse ESCs without the use of any reprogramming factors.

Image of cells affected and unaffected by NPC gene mutation

Combination therapy a potential strategy for treating Niemann-Pick disease

May 15, 2014

Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a potential dual-pronged approach to treating Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease, a rare but devastating genetic disorder. By studying nerve and liver cells grown from NPC patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the scientists determined that although cholesterol does accumulate abnormally in the cells of NPC patients, a more significant problem may be defective autophagy—a basic cellular function that degrades and recycles unneeded or faulty molecules, components, or organelles in a cell. Here, the scientists propose two drugs, one to reduce cholesterol buildup and the other to induce autophagy, as a strategy for treating NPC.

Photo: Rudolf Jaenisch

Whitehead’s Jaenisch to receive prestigious Otto Warburg Medal

March 10, 2014

The German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) will present this year’s Otto Warburg Medal to Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch later this month.

Microscope images showing different cellular phenotypes associated with cholesterol accumulation and autophagy impairment

Restarting stalled autophagy a potential approach to treating Niemann-Pick disease

January 8, 2014

Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that the lipid storage disorder Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease is caused not only by defects in cholesterol processing but also in autophagy—a key cellular degradation pathway that malfunctions in many neurodegenerative diseases.

Image of a eraser erasing part of a neuron

Genetic mutation increases risk of Parkinson’s disease from pesticides

November 27, 2013

A team of researchers from Whitehead Institute and Sanford-Burnham Research Institute has brought new clarity to the picture of how gene-environmental interactions can kill nerve cells that make dopamine. The study uses patient-derived stem cells to show that a mutation in the α-synuclein gene causes increased vulnerability to pesticides, leading to Parkinson’s disease.

Images of the size of Rett model cells and their nuclei compared to control cells

Rett syndrome gene dysfunction redefined

October 3, 2013

Whitehead Institute researchers have discovered that the protein product of the gene MECP2, which is mutated in about 95% of Rett syndrome patients, is a global activator of neuronal gene expression. Mutations in the protein can cause decreased gene transcription, reduced protein synthesis, and severe defects in the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.

Artistic image of silhouetted heads

Gene essential for memory extinction could lead to new PTSD treatments

September 18, 2013

A new study from a team of Whitehead and MIT researchers reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction. Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations.

Image of cells with reporters added using CRISPR/Cas

CRISPR/Cas genome engineering system generates valuable conditional mouse models

August 29, 2013

Whitehead Institute researchers have used the gene regulation system CRISPR/Cas (for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/CRISPR-associated) to engineer mouse genomes containing reporter and conditional alleles in one step. Animals containing such sophisticated engineered alleles can now be made in a matter of weeks rather than years and could be used to model diseases and study gene function.

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