Stem cell self-renewal in haematopoiesis
Haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) provide a lifelong supply of blood and immune cells. While they continuously produce specialised cells, they also replenish a pool of stem cells in the bone marrow, a property known as self-renewal. Thanks to this property, bone marrow or cord blood transplantation provide a life-saving treatment for blood and immune-related diseases. Unfortunately, donor-matching or insufficient number of cells still render these therapies unfeasible or unsuccessful for certain patients.
Attempts to overcome these limitations have been unable to create or expand in a dish a reliable source of blood stem cells for patients, mostly because of defective self-renewal. Our research focuses on understanding the establishment and maintenance mechanisms that endow human HSC self-renewal, as determined by the expression of specific genes sets that define HSC function. We investigate the regulation of the expression of such HSC-defining genes, how the environment and the metabolism affect this regulation, and how attempts to make or maintain these cells in vitro can be improved to preserve their stemness. By gaining a better understanding of HSC biology, our studies aim to contribute to the development of novel HSC-based therapies.
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Somatic stem cells
Stemness and differentiation
High throughput screening
Uchenna Okpechi (Research assistant)
Aisling Fairweather (Research assistant)
Andrew Elefanty, MCRI, Australia
Hanna Mikkola, UCLA Broad Stem Cell Center, USA
Katja Schenke-Leyland, University Women's Hospital Tubingen, Germany