In the News
Nov. 16, 2015 — Scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern have determined how the body responds during times of emergency when it needs more blood cells. In a study published in Nature, researchers report that when tissue damage occurs, in times of excessive bleeding, or during pregnancy, a secondary, emergency blood-formation system is activated in the spleen.
Watch the video below identifying blood-forming stem cells inside the spleen, and read the news release.
Oct. 14, 2015 — A team of scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has made a discovery that suggests cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells, raising concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer. The studies were conducted in specialized mice that had been transplanted with melanoma cells from patients. Prior studies had shown that the metastasis of human melanoma cells in these mice is predictive of their metastasis in patients.
Metastasis, the process by which cancer cells disseminate from their primary site to other parts of the body, leads to the death of most cancer patients. The CRI team found that when antioxidants were administered to the mice, the cancer spread more quickly than in mice that did not get antioxidants. The study was published in Nature.
- Read the news release.
- Read the commentary in Nature.
- Read the article in The Washington Post.
- Read the article in the New York Daily News.
- Read the article in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Read the article in the Daily Mail.
- Read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Read the article in The Scientist.
- Read the article in the International Business Times.
- Read the article in The Straits Times.
- Read the article in Medical Daily.
- Read the article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
- Read the article in Medical News Today.
- Read the wire story posted by UPI.
Oct. 12, 2015 — Scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) have found that a microRNA responsible for preventing liver cancer formation can also compromise liver regeneration and, if present at even higher levels, can cause liver damage that results in cancer.
“Let-7 microRNAs have been shown in mice to be anti-growth, anti-cancer genes that are extraordinarily effective at preventing the formation of certain types of liver cancer,” says Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at CRI and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. “However, our study raises the possibility that let-7 is not a general anti-cancer agent. It’s important to be selective and pay attention to when it might be effective and when it might not be effective, or even harmful.”
The CRI team also noted there are about a dozen, very similar let-7 microRNAs scattered across the genome, suggesting that the microRNAs work in tandem to achieve proper levels of let-7 to balance the need for regeneration against the need to antagonize cancer formation. This idea was supported by the fact that getting rid of a small subset of let-7 microRNAs could even accelerate liver regeneration.
Read the study published in eLife.
Sept. 23, 2015 — A team of scientists at the Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has become the first to use a tissue-clearing technique to localize a rare stem cell population, in the process cracking open a black box containing detailed information about where blood-forming stem cells are located and how they are maintained.
The findings, published in Nature, provide a significant advance toward understanding the microenvironment in which stem cells reside within the bone marrow.
Watch the video below, and read the news release.
Aug. 18, 2015 — Le Qi, a Ph.D. student researcher at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellow. Qi, from China, is one of only 45 international students from 18 countries chosen to receive a fellowship.
Qi is completing his Ph.D. studies in the Hamon Laboratory for Stem Cell and Cancer Biology under the direction of Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of CRI and an HHMI Investigator. Dr. Morrison is originally from Canada, and was selected as an HHMI International Predoctoral Fellow when he was completing his Ph.D. at Stanford University.
“It feels like an opportunity to give back a little by now mentoring one of these students in my lab,” said Dr. Morrison. “These are all students who have an opportunity to do something special. The fellowships fill a major need, while also supporting some of the strongest and most highly selected students in the country.”
Read the news release.
June 15, 2015 — Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, has been announced as the incoming president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR). The ISSCR represents nearly 4,000 stem cell researchers in 55 countries, promoting global collaboration among the world’s most prominent stem cell scientists and physicians. Read more about Dr. Morrison’s upcoming presidential term.
March 27, 2015 — Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, is trying to cure cancer, and he’s pursuing that goal with some of the best early-career scientists in the world in a setting that feels like a tech startup company. Read more in a profile of Dr. Morrison and the institute in D CEO magazine.
Jan. 15, 2015 — The Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) recently recruited Dr. Jian Xu to become the institute’s fifth faculty member and principal investigator. Dr. Xu will lead CRI’s investigations of disease-associated genes and gene networks in blood cell development and blood disorders such as childhood leukemia. Read about Dr. Xu’s appointment at CRI.
Dec. 10, 2014 — According to National Cancer Institute statistics, by the end of this year more than 16,000 children under the age of 19 will have been diagnosed with cancer. Although cancer in children is rare and not well understood, it is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and teenagers. But the outlook is improving thanks to cutting edge research at the genetic level. That research could be medicine’s next big thing.
Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, has pinpointed a gene that contributes to childhood cancers like neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor and liver cancer.
- Read the Medical Breakthroughs in-depth interview.
- Watch the WLS-TV report.
- Read the WJXT-TV report.
Nov. 24, 2014 — Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, has been awarded a $1.35 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for research related to the development of effective therapies for chronic liver disease and liver cancer.
Liver cancer, which is almost always preceded by cirrhosis, is a significant cause of cancer-related death worldwide. In the United States, Texas has the second highest incidence rate of liver cancer.
“We recently identified a genetic pathway known as the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling pathway that when suppressed, results in better liver regeneration and the potential for preventing liver cancer,” said Dr. Zhu, who is also a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. “With the help of this generous funding support, we will use mouse models to validate the pathway as a target in chronic liver disease and liver cancer, and then work to develop novel compounds for the simultaneous treatment of cirrhosis and cancer in the liver.”