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Developmental origin of disease

We are entering a new disease treatment era with targeted therapies coming to replace more general-based cytotoxic regimens. European scientists integrated resources and expertise to perform a multidisciplinary study on the developmental origin of many diseases.


For tissue repair and engineering, in depth knowledge of complex biological processes and stem cell differentiation is required. Also, very important life threatening or disabling diseases affect mesodermal organ systems requiring a thorough understanding of developmental processes. The EU-funded ‘Functional genomics for development and disease of mesodermal organ systems’ (CELLS INTO Organs) project aimed to contribute to such knowledge with the ultimate goal of developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Methodologies of developmental genetics and experimental embryology were coupled to genome scale analysis, leading to the establishment of a technology platform integrating a wide array of information. Genomics, proteomics, whole genome and imaging technologies were utilised to reveal genes which function in building a specific organ system. Partners worked to elucidate molecular and cellular processes underlying embryonic specification and differentiation of mesodermal organs. Findings indicated that many developmental master genes are reactivated during cancer, altering the regulatory function of these genes. The CELLS INTO Organs consortium undertook a number of measures for disseminating project-related information and results to the scientific community. Results have the potential to form the basis for future research on the underlying causes of many diseases.

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