The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
Communication between stem cell populations in embryonic and adult tissues
Selected Awards and Honors:
The George-Weinstein lab discovered a unique cell type that is important for the development and function of multiple tissues and organs. “Myo/Nog” cells produce a molecule called noggin that influences the behavior of surrounding cells. The loss of Myo/Nog cells in the embryo leads to abnormalities resembling the birth defects seen in human newborns, such as eye, brain, spinal cord and body wall defects. Myo/Nog cells are also important for the formation of the heart and muscles that produce body movements.
Recently, Myo/Nog cells were discovered in normal and diseased organs of the adult. Dr. George-Weinstein proposes that Myo/Nog cells are important for wound healing and maintaining tissues that must be replaced due to normal wear and tear. New strategies to prevent and treat birth defects, heart disease and cancer may emerge as our understanding of Myo/Nog cells deepens.
The George-Weinstein lab studies the interactions between stem and progenitor cells during embryonic development and in normal and diseased tissues of the adult. They discovered a unique population of cells in the epiblast of the early embryo that becomes incorporated into multiple tissues and organs. These cells are called Myo/Nog cells because they express mRNA for the skeletal muscle specific transcription factor MyoD and the bone morphogenetic protein inhibitor noggin. Embryos lacking Myo/Nog cells develop severe malformations of the central nervous system, eyes and body wall. Myo/Nog cells also regulate the formation of skeletal and cardiac muscle. In collaboration with Biota Biosciences, Inc., the lab is exploring methods to delay skeletal muscle differentiation in chick embryos to improve the body composition and feed efficiency of meat production. Myo/Nog cells are also involved in wound healing. Our current goals are to define the functions of Myo/Nog cells in regulating stem and progenitor cell behavior in embryonic and adult tissues, examine their contributions to disease processes such as fibrosis and cancer, and develop drugs to target them for therapeutic purposes.