Current R&D/S&T Activities
The blood system is highly dynamic in nature producing 1 to 3 million cells per second in order to maintain homeostasis throughout lifespan. These blood cells arise from a small number of “Hematopoietic stem cells” (HSCs) present in specialized pockets called the niche which regulate HSC fate (survival, quiescence, self-renewal, differentiation). The niche or microenvironment contains cells such as mesenchymal stem cells, osteoblasts, adipocytes, reticular cells, fibroblasts etc which interact with HSCs via cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions as well as by means of secreted factors like chemokines, growth factors and exosomes. This cellular talk between niche cells and HSCs is important for the maintenance of hematopoietic system, and perturbation in this cellular talk can result in hematopoietic disease. It is important to note that even abnormality in niche cells can influence HSC fate. Therefore, we are interested in identifying and understanding the role of niche cells and secreted factors in the development and maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells, and how exposure to foreign compounds (xenobiotics) is likely to perturb hematopoietic function. In this direction, following R&D activities are ongoing:
- Effect of xenobiotics on mesenchymal stem cell differentiation and its underlying mechanism.
- Development of an in vitro model of hematopoietic differentiation of embryonic stem cells.
- Role of Wnt signaling in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) niche.
- Impact of probable leukemogens on niche cells and their supportive role in AML.