Research Area Leader
B. Assmuss, G. Barreto, S. Bellusci, T. Braun, S. Dimmeler, G. Dobreva, I. Fleming, A. Günther, H. Hackstein, C.W. Hamm, K. Husnjak, J. Lohmeyer, M. Potente, H. Sauer, R.T. Schermuly, E. Seifried, A.M. Zeiher
Stem cell based regenerative processes are essential for the survival of most if not all mammalian species. They help to maintain the function of various organs by replacing damaged or lost cells. Some tissues harbour potent stem cells that successfully regenerate even severely damaged organs, while in other organs -probably due to the lack of evolutionary pressure- these cells are better suited to maintain homeostasis than to repair major damage. Nonetheless, in disease situations stem cell based regenerative processes might be impaired or misdirected. We have successfully identified stem cells in the heart and the lung, analysed molecular circuits that control homing and differentiation of stem cells and applied non-resident stem cells for the treatment of heart disease. Now, we want to focus on the epigenetic machinery that affects decisions in cardio-pulmonary stem cells along with the pathways that control the balance between self-renewal and differentiation. We will use refined tools to identify and trace tissue resident stem cells and to determine the contribution of individual stem cell populations to various repair processes. We believe that a comprehensive understanding of signalling mechanisms involved in regeneration is mandatory for effective iatrogenic improvement of tissue repair and that the analysis of the paracrine effects of exogenously administered stem cells will facilitate a more rational exploitation of stem cells for therapeutic purposes. Parallel with these efforts, we will continuously improve our clinical program of stem cell based therapies by direct implementation of results pertaining to homing, survival, self-renewal, and migration etc. of cardiopulmonary stem cells.