Bone stem cell breakthrough

7 May 2015

Bone stem cells - Dan WorthleySouth Australian gastroenterologist, cancer research fellow and 2009 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Dr Daniel Worthley, is making his mark in stem cell research. 

Potential treatments to prevent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and treat cancer could result from research conducted by Dr Worthley and his colleagues at Columbia University Medical Centre.

Published recently in one of the world’s leading science journals, Cell, the research found that bone stem cells regenerate both bone and cartilage in adult mice. Researchers also discovered that osteochondroreticular (OCR) stem cells contributed to bone repair when they were transplanted to a fracture site.

bone stem cells crop Dan WorthleyAs mice and humans have similar connective tissue biology, it is expected these findings could lead to osteoporosis and fracture treatment, which is welcome news given the total cost of osteoporosis and resultant fractures are projected to cost over $33 billion in Australia in the next 10 years. 

For more on the research findings, read Columbia University Medical Centre’s media release or an abstract of Dan’s major post-doctoral paper called ‘Gremlin 1 Identifies a Skeletal Stem Cell with Bone, Cartilage, and Reticular Stromal Potential’ can be found here.

Dr Worthley will also be hosting some of the world’s best young researchers in gastrointestinal oncology, including one of his co-researchers on the Gremlin 1 paper, at the World Congress of Gastroenterology in Brisbane later this year.

The Menzies Foundation will sponsor the session on colorectal cancer science in Brisbane and the Menzies Foundation Symposium on Colorectal Cancer Science at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide.

Joining Dr Worthley will be:

  • Dr Paul Lochhead, Harvard (gastroenterologist who has published multiple papers on colorectal cancer in the New England Journal)
  • Dr Simon Leedham, Oxford (gastroenterologist with first author papers on colorectal cancer in Nature Genetics and Nature Medicine)
  • Dr Sam Asfaha, Assistant Professor University of Western Ontario (gastroenterologist, published on colorectal cancer and stem cells), and
  • Australian experts from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, SAHMRI, the University of Adelaide and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.