We explore the mechanisms that regulate the function of blood- and muscle-forming and forming stem cells so that their potential can be optimally exploited for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, anemia, muscular dystrophy, and diabetes.
Effective functioning of the body’s tissues and organs depends upon innate regenerative processes that maintain proper cell numbers (homeostasis) and replace damaged cells after injury (repair). In many tissues, regenerative potential is determined by the presence and functionality of a dedicated population of stem and progenitor cells, which respond to exogenous cues to produce replacement cells when needed.
Understanding how these unspecialized precursors are maintained and regulated is essential for understanding the fundamental biology of tissues. In addition, this knowledge has practical implications, as the regenerative potential of tissue-specific stem and progenitor cells can be exploited therapeutically by transplantation (to replenish the stem cell pool) or by endogenous manipulation (to boost the repair activity of cells already present in the tissue).