I blogged earlier today about one article in this week's issue of Nature, but it's not the only bit of research (subscription required) authored by Stanford scientists in the issue. Developmental cell biologist Philip Beachy, PhD, is the senior author of a study showing how the bladder bounces back from bacterial infection by first shedding and then regenerating several layers of cells. From our release:
The bladder is a supple, muscular organ with a well-defined task: Store urine and release it at an appropriate time. Unlike its workhorse neighbor, the intestine, it doesn’t need a lot of fussy cell division to get the job done. But when the bladder becomes infected, it launches a massive, scorched-earth attack, sloughing off the innermost layer of cells to keep invading bacteria from latching on to and burrowing into its inner lining.
Now scientists [here] have identified the key molecular pathways that form a control circuit involved in kick-starting cell division in the bladder to repair the damage. They’ve also pinpointed what appear to be bladder stem cells critical to the repair. The research could lead to new ways to treat bladder infections and other, more deadly problems.
The researchers, including first author, post-doc Kunyoo Shin, PhD, go on to describe how they've identified what seems to a bladder stem cell that facilitates the regeneration. Pinpointing such a cell and understanding how it interacts with its surroundings may lead to a greater understanding of cancers in the bladder, prostate and other similar organs, they believe.