IZKF Junior Research Group Tissue Regeneration in Musculoskeletal Diseases
Microenvironmental influence on stem cell behavior
MSCs are present in various adult tissues, where they reside predominantly in the perivascular niche. Upon injury, these cells drive the regeneration of the specific tissue. The mechanisms regulating and directing MSCs to respond according to there are mostly unknown. These mechanisms might involve cellular interactions with tissue resident cells in a healthy environment as well as the response to tissue injury or different disease conditions. Recently, it has been shown that MSCs can specifically respond to their microenvironment and for example direct a pro-inflammatory environment towards a regenerative environment. The immunomodulatory effects of MSCs and their role in tissue regeneration will be an important research focus of the group.
Cell therapies for musculoskeletal tissue repair
Currently there is a great discrepancy between clinical practice and preclinical research with regards to cell therapies. In the clinical setting, autologous bone marrow aspirates are used directly in intra-operative procedures. In contrast, most preclinical studies and in vitro stem cell work have been conducted with in vitro expanded cells. The biology of fresh bone marrow aspirates and the contained mononuclear cells (MNCs) is poorly understood. Characterization of MNCs and the development of improved cell therapies will be the aim of this research line.
Stimulation of endogenous repair mechanisms
Whilst tissue engineering strategies have shown promising results, clinical application of in vitro manipulated cells is confronted with several hurdles including high costs, long waiting time, safety issues and finally regulatory approval. Therefore, a research focus of the group will be the investigation of the stimulation of endogenous cells and repair mechanisms.