We investigate how blood-forming stem cells are produced in the body, and how these stem cells drive the formation of important mature blood cells.
We are particularly passionate about understanding how platelets (the cells responsible for preventing bleeding) are made in the body and how this process can be copied in the laboratory to enable on-demand platelet production in patients.
This clinical for platelets is inadequately and precariously met through voluntary blood donations. Due to supply constraints, the use of platelets is triaged for those patients with life threatening conditions but this therapeutic should be available to all that need it. The most cutting-edge methods for platelet manufacture only yield a tiny fraction of the platelets that we know are possible. This precludes feasible laboratory-based platelet manufacture.
The Taoudi laboratory recently discovered how our bodies naturally produce platelets, this is a process we call membrane budding. By instructing megakaryocytes to undergo membrane budding in the laboratory we will be able to overcome the current scalability problem. To accomplish this we develop critical new knowledge that defines the rules of healthy platelet production in the body, and we investigate how to apply this knowledge to enable useful laboratory-based platelet production.
Our mission is to enable on-demand platelet supply by revolutionising our understanding of how blood production is controlled.
By understanding the fundamental biology of blood production (such as stem cell formation and platelet production) we aim to make the supply of safe and high-quality blood products tailored to conditions such as chemotherapy-induced platelet loss (which causes a potentially life-threatening pause in the treatment of cancer patients) or for the treatment of newborn babies who are at risk of stroke.
Our recent discoveries include:
Our objective with the platelet biogenesis program is to build on our innovations to develop novel therapeutics and methods for laboratory-based platelet production. This will be achieved by:
Team members: Dr Alison Farley, Mr Antoine Terreaux, Dr Tishya Indran
Building on our discovery that the first phase of blood formation in the yolk sac occurs via three bipotent precursors (haemangioblast, mesenchymoangioblast, and haematomesoblast), we are using single-cell technologies to investigate haematopoietic stem cell formation, mature haematopoietic lineage formation and function, and on the development of the fetal vasculature.
Team members: Dr Christine Biben
We aim to generate a mechanistic understanding about how bleeding in the fetal and neonatal brain is caused in the absence of platelets. We will identify pathways that could be targeted to prevent or ameliorate the severity of stroke where there is a risk.
To this end, our studies will:
Team members: Dr Alison Farley