Analysis of molecular processes during cord blood maintenance and expansion
One major interest of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) research is to find conditions to significantly expand numbers of functional human HSC in vitro. Especially umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells that are easily accessible represent an ideal source for HSC research and its clinical use. The overall goal of our suggested experiments is to understand underlying molecular events of HSC biology and to find culture conditions that allow the expansion of such cells while maintaining their long-term (LT) repopulating potential. This could ultimately provide protocols to obtain sufficient cells for bone marrow transplantations, which is of utter significance for the clinics where every year thousands of bone marrow transplantations fail because insufficient numbers engraft in the host. A second aim is to define how to maintain cord blood CD34+ cells over a period of at least two-three weeks. The maintenance of LT-HSC cultures over such a period of time would be a great advantage for the scientific community since this would allow us to modify transplantable CD34+ cells using conventional gene targeting. Such cells could then be used to study normal and malignant human hematopoietic development in vivo using xenograft assays in immune-deficient mice.
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