Dr. David Enshell-Seijffers

Stem cells in personalized medicine

Stem cell therapy is considered to be the leading potential methodology to cure a variety of devastated diseases currently lacking treatment. However, while the intrinsic properties of stem cells are under intensive study, the comparatively rudimentary understanding of the role of the microenvironment in regulating stem cell behavior has been an impediment to effectively integrating in vivo and in vitro studies to exploit the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells. Furthermore, stem cell exhaustion is considered one of the key factors causing aging. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that maintain stem cell number and function in adult tissues may also provide methodologies to slow the process of aging. However, the variation in the genetic make-up of different individuals will require to fine tune these novel methodologies to tailor the treatment to the patient. Our research uses the hair follicle as a model system to study the molecular interactions between the stem cells and their environment. We use sophisticated genetic screens in mice and exploit the accessibility of the hair follicle to reveal genetic networks that regulate stem cell activity. The identification of such networks will enable us to develop molecular modifiers that can be applied to test their effect on curing different diseases and slowing aging. This requires the development of animal models. Therefore, we will establish embryonic stem cell center with the aim to design and generate transgenic animal models for a variety of diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, autoimmunity and diabetes.

 


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