Tony B. Csoka (
Sat, 14 Feb 1998 21:47:16 -0700

Just found this on Eurekalert:

> Wistar Scientist Invited To Speak On Regeneration At National
> Meeting Of American Association For The Advancement Of Science
> Philadelphia -- Ellen Heber-Katz, Ph.D., a professor and immunologist at The Wistar Institute, has been invited to speak at
> the 165th national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her presentation on The
> Genetics of Tissue Repair and Regeneration in Mice will be one of only seven science topical lectures designed to highlight
> emerging and innovative research. Prior to her presentation, Dr. Heber-Katz will participate in a 50-minute news briefing
> with reporters.
> The AAS meeting and Science Innovation Exposition will be held from February 12-17, 1998 in Philadelphia -- where its
> first meeting was held 150 years ago. It is the scientific community's most visible forum for increasing the public's
> understanding of science.
> Dr. Heber-Katz's presentation will focus on the mouse she and her research team discovered, which is the first potentially
> useful model for studying epimorphic (limb) regeneration in humans.
> Until now, it has been possible to study regeneration only in amphibians, which are biologically, genetically and
> immunologically different from mammals. "Despite those limitations," says Dr. Heber-Katz, "there has been impressive
> work done by amphibian biologists. They laid out the basic biological road map for the study of regeneration."
> Dr. Heber-Katz's discovery of the healer mouse occurred five years ago, when her laboratory was using different
> autoimmune mouse models to study multiple sclerosis. As a way of painlessly and permanently separating one group of
> immunized mice from the others, Dr. Heber-Katz's staff pierced their ears, a standard laboratory method for identifying
> groups. Within weeks, however, the holes had closed. The researchers, thinking they had made a mistake, re-pierced their
> ears. Again, the holes closed with full replacement of the epidermis, dermis and cartilage, and with no evidence of scarring.
> "At first" explains Dr. Heber-Katz, "it wasn't clear if we had a model for studying wound repair or regeneration, which is a
> rare form of wound healing in mammals. Since then, however, our findings have made it clear that this is classic epimorphic
> regeneration. These mice have characteristics, including tail regrowth and rapid liver regeneration, similar to those seen in
> amphibian tissue regeneration."
> By crossing mice that are healers with those that are not, Dr. Heber-Katz and her research team are collecting valuable
> information about the genes involved in regeneration. Thus far, they have identified seven chromosomal regions and isolated
> several gene products that differ between healers and non-healers.
> They also have found that, as the healer mice age, they do not regenerate as quickly or as well. Yet, when the researchers
> use a specific antibody to deplete a subset of T-cells, which are the cells responsible for cell-mediated immunity, the mice
> heal perfectly.
> "It is intriguing to speculate," says Dr. Heber-Katz, "that repair of wounds became dominant in mammals with the
> development of a complex immune system, which was there to protect against tumors. It is known that molecules expressed
> in regenerating tissue are also expressed in tumors and, for that matter, during mammalian development. In fact, fetal wound
> healing is scarless and occurs before the development of the T-cell compartment of the immune system."
> Dr. Heber-Katz expects her findings may ultimately make it possible to promote organ replacement, enhance the healing of
> chronic wounds, burns and spinal cord injuries, and control tissue growth. Her work is being funded in part by the National
> Institutes of Health.
> The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the United States. For more
> than 100 years, Wistar scientists have been making history and improving world health through their development of
> vaccines against diseases that include rabies, German measles, infantile gastroenteritis (rotavirus), and cytomegalovirus;
> discovery of molecules like interleukin-12, which are helping the immune system fight bacteria, parasites, viruses and
> cancer; and location of genes that contribute to the development of diseases like breast, lung and prostate cancer. Wistar is a
> National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.