|Home-- -History-- -Bibliography- -Pregnancy Timeline- --Prescription Drugs in Pregnancy- -- Pregnancy Calculator- --Female Reproductive System- -Contact|
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
New hormone essential for heart development discovered
Scientists at A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB) have identified a gene encoding a hormone that could potentially be used as a therapeutic molecule to treat heart diseases.
The team led by Dr Bruno Reversade carried out experiments to determine ELABELA’s function, since its existence was hitherto unsuspected. Using zebrafish designed to specifically lack this hormone, they uncovered that ELABELA is indispensable for heart formation. Zebrafish embryos without this gene had rudimentary or no heart at all. Their results were published in the 5 December 2013 online issue of Developmental Cell.
Deficiencies in hormones are the cause of many diseases, such as the loss of insulin or insulin resistance, that results in diabetes, and irregularities in appetite and satiety hormones that can cause obesity.
The team also found that ELABELA uses a receptor previously believed to be specific to APELIN, a blood-pressure controlling hormone. This receptor called APJ or Apelin Receptor has dual functions - it first conveys signals from ELABELA and then from APELIN. Mutations in the Apelin Receptor also prevent the heart from forming. Zebrafish bereft of the Apelin Receptor are referred to as the Grinch, in reference to the cold and heartless cartoon character created by Dr. Seuss in 1957.
The team’s findings hold great promise for the potential use of ELABELA as a therapeutic molecule for cardiovascular disease to be used in cardiac repair and control of hypertension. As some people might have a harmful copy of the ELABELA gene in their genetic make-up, sequencing and screening for this particular gene in the general population might also help to detect predisposition to heart anomalies before the disease progresses.
Dr Bruno Reversade: “The human genome has been sequenced for over a decade. That we can still find anonymous hormones charms me. There are a still a few more to discover…but not for long.”
Prof Birgitte Lane, Executive Director of IMB: “This discovery shows great promise for the development of targeted therapies for heart disease and blood pressure control in the future. It is an excellent example of how basic research can lead to surprising and unexpected findings that may change and refine medical practice.”
Prof Hong Wan Jin, Executive Director of IMCB: “I am very pleased with Bruno's achievement as it reflects the synergy of collaboration and joint efforts among various research institutes in Singapore.”
About the Reversade Laboratory
For more information about Dr. Reversade’s laboratory, visit www.reversade.com.
For more information about ELABELA, visit www.elabela.com.
About the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB)
IMB has 20 research teams working in three primary focus areas - stem cells, genetic disease, and skin biology. The teams work closely with clinical collaborators as well as industry partners, to target the challenging interface between basic science and clinical medicine. IMB’s strategic research topics are targeted at translational research to understand the mechanisms of human disease so as to identify new strategies for disease amelioration, cure and eradication and to improve health and wellbeing. Since 2011, IMB has also hosted the inter-research institute Skin Biology Cluster platform, and leads major strategic funding programs in rare genetic diseases and in skin biology. In 2013 IMB became a founding institute of the Skin Research Institute of Singapore.
For more information about IMB, please visit www.imb.a-star.edu.sg.
About Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)
Funded primarily by the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR, IMCB’s research activities focus on four major fields: Animal Models of Development and Disease, Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics, Cell Biology in Health and Disease, and Structural Biology and Drug Discovery.
For more information about IMCB, please visit www.imcb.a-star.edu.sg
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.
In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.
A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs, house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.
For more information, visit www.a-star.edu.sg