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Red and white blood cells (erythrocytes and leukocytes) are produced by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs have been used as stem cell therapies for more than 50 years in the form of bone marrow transplants. Cord blood is also a rich source of HSCs for therapeutic purposes. Advances in modern medicine, including new stem cell technologies and genetic engineering, are expanding the therapeutic use of HSCs.
The mission of the Blood Program at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute is to define the molecular mechanisms that regulate the production and maintenance of HSCs, the production of blood cells by HSCs (hematopoiesis) and the function of the different types of blood cells. We also seek to understand how dysregulation of these processes can cause disease such as bone marrow failure, immune deficiencies, infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer, and diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease. Our hope is that understanding these mechanisms will reveal opportunities to manipulate the production and function of blood cells for novel treatments.
A macrophage engaging yeast particles. Macrophages adhere to the extracellular matrix, crawl around to explore their environment, and capture microbes and dead cells by phagocytosis. Consequently, their morphology is highly variable and constantly changing.
Our current focus is on the production and function of myeloid cells — neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs). These cells play key roles in inflammation and the immune system. In particular, we are interested in
- mechanisms regulating the production of myeloid cells during homeostasis (steady-state myelopoiesis) and following infection (emergency myelopoiesis)
- the detection of microbes by myeloid cells
- how dysregulated production and function of myeloid cells underlies susceptibility to infections, cancer and aging-associated diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease
In the future, our researchers plan to expand their research to include other blood cell types, such as lymphocytes and erythrocytes. In addition, we plan to partner with Cedars-Sinai physicians to develop more translational aspects of our research in the areas of leukemia, immunodeficiency and bone marrow transplantation.
The Blood Program’s investigators collaborate in the Goodridge Laboratory, along with other institutions, to study
- detection of microbes and microbial components by pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and Dectin-1
- mechanisms regulating steady-state and emergency myelopoiesis
- development of dentritic cell (DC) vaccines to treat cancer
- use of iPSCs to study myeloid cell production and function in human disease
- the role of monocytes/macrophages in Alzheimer’s disease
- effects of aging on hematopoiesis and the immune system