Chinese scientists discover that stem cell regulator CBX4 may prove an effective target for osteoarthritis treatment

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Chinese Academy of Sciences zoology building
Chinese Academy of Sciences zoology building

Scientists from the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, and the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found that a protein named CBX4 acts as a regulator of mesenchymal stem cell cellular aging, and senescence.

This research is a first in understanding the depth of CBX4’s role in aging, and possibly identifies an avenue for treatments of osteoarthritis and other diseases related to aging, by ramping up the production and preservation of mesenchymal stem cells.

Here is a short excerpt from the paper published in Cell Reports:

“The therapeutic potential of CBX4 in combating senescence-associated degenerative diseases is evidenced by the successful application of CBX4 overexpression in rescuing aging defects in pathological- and replicative-senescent hMSCs, as well as in primary hMSCs from aged individuals. Osteoarthritis is an age-related disease involving the degeneration of articular cartilage; the major risk factors are aging and trauma (Varela-Eirin et al., 2018). The clearance of local senescent cells and the implantation of hMSCs to the joint have provided a therapeutic paradigm for osteoarthritis (Jeon et al., 2017, McGonagle et al., 2017). In our study, CBX4-overexpressing lentiviral vectors administrated by intra-articular injection increased bone density, attenuated articular cartilage erosion, reduced the expression of aging and inflammation factors, and stimulated the expression of bone growth and differentiation genes, further positioning CBX4 as a robust therapeutic target for treating osteoarthritis. Although the detailed mechanisms remain to be investigated, our data have demonstrated the potential of CBX4-based gene therapy for the treatment of cellular senescence-related human diseases.”

For more information, you can see the full research paper here:
https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(19)30274-8.pdf