The overall goal of all NIAMS roundtables is to discuss scientific and clinical needs, and to listen to the concerns and challenges facing the scientific community. These sessions provide a valuable source of input for the NIAMS planning process. This specific roundtable explored the potential value of genome-wide data to define functional elements of the genome for research in NIAMS mission areas.
Adult muscle stem cells in mice can be turned into brown fat—an energy-burning type of fat—by altering the presence of one gene regulator, according to research funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The finding could have implications for treating obesity and the health risks associated with it, such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and other disorders. In contrast to white fat cells that store excess energy, brown fat cells are considered “good fat” because they burn energy and keep body temperature regulated.
Researchers have long questioned why patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) tend to manage well through childhood and adolescence, yet succumb to their disease in early adulthood, or why elderly people who lose muscle strength following bed rest find it difficult or impossible to regain. Researchers at NIAMS are beginning to find answers in a specialized population of cells called satellite cells. Their findings suggest a potential therapeutic target for conditions where muscle deterioration threatens life or quality of life.