Three ERIBA PI’s join forces in a new stem cell research project

11 April 2016

Curiosity, communication and collaboration: three phrases inherent to the approach to research in ERIBA. The open offices and joined laboratories in the ERIBA building make discussions and collaborations as easy as possible. In line with this vision, three ERIBA PI’s, Gerald de Haan, Floris Foijer and Peter Lansdorp, set up a collaborative research project on hematopoietic stem cells. A €700,000 ZonMw TOP Grant makes this collaboration possible for the next four years.

All blood cells in our body are produced by a small number of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the bone marrow. When patients suffer from leukemia, normal blood cell production is often impaired. When this happens, HSCs can be transplanted into the patient following marrow ablative therapy to restore blood cell production. Transplanting a larger number of HSCs can speed up the restorative process. However, HSC’s are difficult to collect and manipulate in large quantities. Additionally, a large number of cells is required for a transplant to be successful.

Within ERIBA, a method was developed to generate and multiply mouse HSC’s in vitro. Unfortunately, these cells in some cases cause leukemia in mice after transplantation. The TOP grant will enable the three research groups to optimize the in vitro expansion of normal stem cells and explore the mechanism resulting in the onset of leukemia in some of the cultured cells. Individual cells will be sequenced to detect genetic deviations. This method will allow the researchers to track the deviations that might lead to leukemia. The method itself will also be an important tool in the early detection of genetic alterations in stem cells of human patients.

The expertise of the three PI’s, ranging from stem cell biology, chromosomal instability, mouse models, and single cell sequencing methodology, is highly complimentary. Collectively they are therefore uniquely positioned to carry out this project. And you could become a part of the project as well: keep an eye on our vacancies page, for upcoming job opportunities as a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow.

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