Stem cells and regenerative medicine
Stem cells and regenerative medicine research is particularly active in the lab and regards mainly the use of stem cells for the cure of liver diseases. We have previously demonstrated that functional hepatocytes can be generated from mouse germline cell-derived pluripotent stem cells and that these cells can engraft in and participate to liver regeneration in vivo. Our aim is to generate functional hepatocytes from human stem cells in vitro, and research is currently focused on:
Generating functional hepatocytes from human stem cells (human liver stem cells);
Correcting gene deficiency, responsible for liver metabolic diseases, with stem cells as platform for gene delivery or with microvesicles for delivery of therapeutic agents;
Studying the long term engraftment of stem cell-derived hepatocytes in the liver in mice models of liver diseases.
Another research area regards studying the role of an RNA-binding protein, ESRP1 in neoplastic transformation. We came across this gene in a large-scale cDNA microarray analysis on mouse embryonic stem cells aiming at finding novel genes involved in stemness- and pluripotency- maintenance. ESRP1 is responsible for epithelial differentiation and we are now studying:
The role of ESRP1, by modulating its expression, in the neoplastic transformation of epithelial cells;
Tumor growth (primary and metastatic) in vivo in immunocompromised animals.