stem cells

3D bioprinting personalized neural tissues for drug screening

Bioprinting can produce living human tissues on demand, opening up huge possibilities for medical breakthroughs in both drug screening and developing replacement tissues. The Willerth lab was the first group in the world to use the cutting edge RX1 bioprinter from Aspect Biosystems to bioprint neural tissues similar to those found in the brain using stem cells derived from healthy patients. Similar tissues can be printed using stem cells derived from patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, recapitulating the disease phenotype in a dish.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Engineering stem cells to improve adaptive immune function

Thousands of Canadians receive bone marrow transplants each year to treat cancer and immune disease. Unfortunately, not only is this treatment dangerous, it is only effective for a small subset of cancers and immune disorders. Our goal is to provide a safer alternative to marrow transplantation that can be applied to a broad set of indications.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Generation of fully mature, functional islet-like organoids from human pluripotent stem cells in vitro

Insulin is a hormone that is crucial for maintaining normal blood sugar levels and is produced by beta-cells in the pancreas. If the amount of beta-cells is insufficient, or beta-cells stop making insulin, blood sugar levels start to rise which can lead to diabetes. Islet transplantation can supply the necessary amount of beta-cells and achieve superior glucose control over exogenous insulin injection, but is extremely limited by its reliance on organ donations. As a result, only a small fraction of people afflicted with diabetes currently benefit from these cell replacement therapies.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Generating tissue capable of forming blood-progenitor cells at clinical scales

Chronic diseases consume 67% of direct healthcare costs in Canada. Regenerative medicine (RM) is a powerful strategy to address chronic diseases. The next generation of RM therapeutics targets development of living cells and tissues to treat specific indications. Availability of stable progenitor stem cell bio-banks that can be differentiated to desired phenotypes is a crucial pre-requisite.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Investigating noncoding RNA networks in hematopoiesis

The genetic material of cells is DNA. The popular notion in biology for a long time was that DNA makes RNA which in turn makes proteins. But over the past two decades, research has shown that not all types of RNA are converted to protein. These RNAs which do not make (or do not code for) proteins are called noncoding RNAs. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) belong to one of the classes of noncoding RNAs. Based on various studies, we know that lncRNAs are crucial during different biological contexts including embryonic development as well as disease.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Transcriptional memory and plasticity in embryonic stem cells

Regenerative medicine such as stem cell based therapy holds great promise towards addressing many diseases that afflict millions of Canadians, including many forms of cancer, muscular and neurological degenerative disorders, diabetes, and arthritis. However, this promise has yet to be fully realized. Despite the many advances in stem cell biology, little is known on the mechanisms governing stem cell identity and on how this identity can be effectively changed and applied towards its target function.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Protecting insulin-producing beta cell transplants from death and dysfunction

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases among adults, children and youth. In 2008/09, the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System reported 2,359,252 cases of diagnosed diabetes in Canada and a prevalence of 5.4% in British Columbia. Rates of type 1 diabetes (T1D) among children and youth have been on the rise globally. Poor control of diabetes leads to various complications such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, blindness and renal failure, resulting in a shorter and a reduced quality of life. 

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

Developing personalized anti-arrhythmic drug therapy for atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder. With an aging population, the number of people with AF is expected to rise dramatically. People with AF are twice as likely to die, are five times more likely to have a stroke, can develop worsening heart muscle function, and have a lower quality of life. We have learned that a person's genetic makeup, or DNA, has a major impact on their risk of developing AF; but we have a limited understanding of why, or how to use this information to treat people in a safer and more effective way.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

Extrinsic versus intrinsic regulation of tooth replacement in reptiles: Applications to tooth regeneration in mammals

Reptiles replace their teeth continuously throughout life, as did early mammals, whereas modern mammals do not. If the ability for continual tooth renewal is latent in the mammalian genome, there is potential for the ability to regenerate and replace human dental tissues or whole teeth. This project will use an animal model (the leopard gecko) to seek the triggers that recruit the stem cells that are presumed to initiate replacement teeth.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2015

The role of the Ahi-1 oncogene in the regulation of hematopoietic stem cell development, function, and leukemogenesis

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells. The disease starts when genetic changes in blood stem cells (hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs) cause them to become malignant (leukemic stem cells) and grow uncontrollably. Normally, HSCs make all the white and red blood cells that function to protect our bodies from infections and to carry oxygen and nutrients to other cells in the body. In CML, leukemic stem cells crowd out all other cells in the bone marrow, leading to illness and eventually, if uncontrolled, death in the patient.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2011
Partners: 
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