Humans have a 'cellular clock' that controls spine growth, researchers confirm

Eric Oliver -   Print  |

Developmental biologist Olivier Pourquié, PhD, identified a cellular segmentation clock-like mechanism in humans that controls spine development, The Harvard Gazette reports.

What you should know:

1. Dr. Pourquié, of Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard Stem Cell Institute, discovered the cellular mechanism in chicken embryos more than 20 years ago. Recently, he led a team that created a lab-dish model of the same mechanism in humans using tissue and biologics.

Each "tick" of the clock controls new cell development. In humans, the clock "ticks" every five hours, and in mice the clock "ticks" every two and a half hours.

2. The mechanism controls human spine growth and provides researchers with an in vitro system to study early spine development in humans.

3. Dr. Pourquié hopes the mechanism will be used with stem cell models to create differentiated tissue for research and clinical applications.

4. Dr. Pourquié and his team will now begin studying what controls the clock's variable speed and what controls embryonic development in different species.

Read their findings in Nature here.

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