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Method of Producing a Stem Cell-Like Melanocyte


Meenhard Herlyn and Susan E. Zabierowski

Tech ID

Wistar scientists have invented a method of producing a dedifferentiated melanocyte, a premelanoma stem cell-like cell, by activating specific intracellular targets and selecting for a stem cell-like melanocyte capable of proliferating under stem cell growth conditions.  These dedifferentiated melanocytes increase expression of neural crest-related genes and exhibit a decrease in pigmentation-related genes, compared to untreated controls.  Stem cell-like melanocytes are capable of further differentiation into various cell types, assuming neuronal, smooth muscle cell, oligodendrocyte, melanocyte, or chondrocyte phenotypes.  Wistar scientists have defined an oncogenic role for Notch signaling in melanocytes and highlight the potential for Notch inhibition to be used as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of melanoma.

Key Words
Cancer, cancer stem cells, dedifferentiation, melanocytes, oncology, tissue reconstruction., tissue regeneration, tissue repair
Applications and Advantages

This technology is useful for developing dedifferentiated melanocyte for purposes of tissue reconstruction, tissue regeneration and repair as well as cancer stem cell research.

Intellectual Property Status

PCT Application No. PCT/US2009/058950 (WO 2010/038781, published 04/08/2010).

Licensing Opportunity

Wistar is seeking corporate partners to collaborate in further validation and development of technology.

Relevant Publication(s)

Active Notch1 confers a transformed phenotype to primary human melanocytes., Pinnix CC, Lee JT, Liu ZJ, McDaid R, Balint K, Beverly LJ, Brafford PA, Xiao M, Himes B, Zabierowski SE, Yashiro-Ohtani Y, Nathanson KL, Bengston A, Pollock PM, Weeraratna AT, Nickoloff BJ, Pear WS, Capobianco AJ, Herlyn M. Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 1;69(13):5312-20. Epub 2009 Jun 23.