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Mochel, Jonathan

Research of intestinal stem cells in dogs will help develop innovative therapies

By Chelsea Davis, Office of the Vice President for Research

In a first-of-its-kind study, Iowa State researchers will focus on the intestinal stem cells of dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers in order to develop improved treatments for the millions of people suffering from these diseases.

Jonathan Paul Mochel, associate professor of biomedical sciences, received a two-year $150,000 Miller Research Award, co-sponsored by the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Miller program is supported by funds from an endowment established by Mary G. Miller to honor her mother, Mary N. Miller, with the aim of supporting scientific research.

Mochel’s interdisciplinary research team includes his co-principal investigators Karin Allenspach and Al Jergens, both professors of veterinary clinical sciences. The team is investigating how the use of stem cells from dogs that develop GI diseases similar to humans will lead to improved predictability of preclinical models used for drug development and screening.

IBD is a serious public health threat, afflicting 1.5 million people in North America alone, and GI cancers cause more than 500,000 deaths worldwide every year. IBD is one of the critical risk factors leading to colorectal cancer, the most common form of GI tumors. IBD is associated with $3.1 billion net costs per year in the U.S. These intestinal diseases can have lifelong, debilitating effects that require extensive drug therapy and invasive surgical procedures.

Improved drug therapies will reduce the number of people with GI disorders, in turn decreasing morbidity and mortality and improving quality of life.

This research will characterize the first application of stem cells from diseased dogs for translational medical purposes, and will leverage resources from the College of Veterinary Medicine’s newly established Clinical Investigation Center.