Blood & immune system
One of the most intensely studied type of stem cells is the hematopoietic stem cell.
The hematopoietic (HSC) or blood stem cell has the capacity to generate all of the many different cell types within the blood, including the red blood cells, immune cells and platelets.
HSCs can be found at very low numbers in the blood circulating in the body but reside in the bone marrow of the adult and are also enriched in umbilical cord blood. Since the 1950s, certain types of blood cancers, like leukaemia and lymphoma, have been treated with stem cells from the bone marrow to restore the blood system with healthy blood cells. However, the rarity of this cell type has made it very difficult to actually isolate and expand.
The generation of HSCs, and all their derivative blood cell types, from pluripotent stem cells is a major area of basic research within reNEW. Here, our researchers focus on new approaches to the generation, development, and isolation of HSCs in the lab. Their work supports the development of HSC-based gene and cell replacement therapies for the treatment of multiple medical conditions, such as inherited blood disorders, autoimmune diseases, as well as blood and lymph cancers. These therapies can be made patient specific, bypassing donor-host mismatches that can appear following the transplantation of donated HSCs.
Our researchers also work on generating models of the lymphoid organs such as the thymus. These will notably be used to cultivate human thymic and lymph nodes.