1.Elucidation of regulatory mechanisms underlying self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells
Keyword : hematopoietic stem cell, self-renewal, differentiation, asymmetric division,hematopoietic stem cell niche.
Our studies focus mainly on investigation of stem cell biology using the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) as a research model. Recent identification of a variety of stem cell sources including embryonic and somatic (tissue-specific) stem cells has brought about substantial progress in the field of stem cell research. The HSC represents the first stem cell for which identity and existence were determined. Studies on HSCs have provided us with some basic concepts applying to different types of stem cells, yet many of these concepts remain unverified. It therefore is very important to continue basic studies to answer many questions left unsolved and thus to permit contributions to the field of biological research and clinical medicine. HSCs are capable of continuous supply of all lineages of blood cells to each individual for his or her entire life. Both self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potentials enable this task. One major advantage in HSC research lies in that established assay systems allow clonal analysis of each individual stem cell. Using a defined assay system, we can test capabilities of self-renewal and multilineage differentiation at single cell levels using either in vitro or in vivo assays. We believe that HSC research will eventually make great contributions to the development of safe and efficacious regenerative medicine and gene therapy.
3.Basic research for developing cell-based therapy using human MSCs
MSCs have great potential for use in a regenerative cell-based therapy. There are growing expectations that such advanced regenerative medicine will meet the demand to treat rare diseases where a small molecule drug had not been successfully developed. To bring MSC into practical use, basics of MSC properties remain to be understood, cell manufacturing processes including cell isolation, expansion and preservation need to be developed and a method to validate quality and safety of the manufactured MSCs has to be established. In this project, we will focus on the distinct characteristics of MSC from different origins and explore the mechanisms behind the differences. The information from the studies will be used to further develop manufacturing and validating processes of MSCs. We will also study the differentiation potential of MSC which leads us to develop a new application of MSC.