Regulating muscle stem cell function – Uncovering molecular mechanisms behind muscle growth and repair

Photo: Dr. Michael Rudnicki is a Senior Scientist and Director of the Regenerative Medicine Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and a Professor in the University of Ottawa’s Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. He is also Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network.

“We are arriving at a tilting point where stem cell research is going to lead to the transformation of medical treatments for devastating diseases that are currently untreatable.”
- Dr. Michael Rudnicki

Issue

Satellite cells are adult muscle stem cells that give rise to skeletal muscle cells. These stem cells play a crucial role in the development, growth and repair of muscles but researchers don’t fully understand how satellite cells are regulated in the body. These cells are a potential treatment target for rare muscle disorders, such as duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Approach

Dr. Michael Rudnicki is a world-leader in molecular biology and regenerative medicine. His lab has conducted leading studies into the embryonic development of skeletal muscle and into how satellite regenerate muscle tissue. Dr. Rudnicki and his colleagues use molecular genetics and genomic approaches to determine the function and roles played by the regulatory factors that guide these processes.

Impact

The lab has produced many influential findings, including the discovery that a protein called Pax7 is required for muscle stem cell function, and that the protein Wnt7a regulates muscle repair. Dr. Rudnicki’s work has been cited more than 15,000 times and has set the stage for molecular and stem cell based approaches for the treatment of neuromuscular disorders.

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