The Bone Marrow Niche

The Bone Marrow Niche

Science is starting to understand the assumed mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) niches and how the intra-niche co-dependence of MSCs and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) helps regulate marrow stem cell phenotypes. The control of this microenvironment has been elusive in vitro and it has been a major challenge to culture HSCs without rapid loss of phenotype.

We address these issues using polymer and hydrogel systems that allow controlled presentation of growth factors (GFs) to develop synthetic niches.

Bone marrow
transplants, where heathy HSCs are delivered
 to a recipient with e.g., leukaemia, have been
successfully used for some time, but there are significant limitations. We work to towards systems that will enable understanding of MSC niche functions and ultimately allow one donor to reach multiple recipients. In addition, a reliable in vitro system permitting HSC self- renewal will be invaluable to achieve gene editing therapies that can potentially be used to correct hematopoietic diseases if HSC phenotype can be maintained during in vitro manipulation.