The UQ-StemCARE centre aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms and principles underlying loss in stem cell function as we age.
Our Centre has the following scientific aims:
- Discover the intrinsic (stem cell autonomous) and extrinsic (non-stem cell autonomous) regulators of stem cell ageing within in vivo perivascular, muscle, skeletal and neural stem cell niches.
- Develop robust in vitro and in vivo models to interrogate the functional interactions between the intrinsic and extrinsic processes that result in ageing of stem cells and their niches in these tissues.
- Demonstrate that manipulating novel key regulators (whether cellular, matrix or systemically-derived) can maintain stem cell and tissue function with age.
- Translate the scientific results into clinical solutions with commercial potential.
We focus on investigating the three critical tissue stem cell niches responsible for the bulk of age-associated productivity loss in society:
- Perivascular - the niche that is present in all tissue stem cell niches (including neural and musculoskeletal), and specifically associated with age-related vascular diseases such as aterio-, arteriosclerosis
- Neural – a complex niche defined originally by UQ researchers and associated with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia
- Musculoskeletal – niches in muscle and bone are closely associated with the perivascular niche but are themselves separable and associated with age-related diseases such as muscle wasting, osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis
along with the system that connects them all, circulating cellular and soluble factors in the blood. This unique focus, coupled with our philosophy of viewing ageing as a ‘systems-wide’ stem cell phenomenon, will make this Centre distinct from any other national or global initiative aimed at understanding the ageing process.
|Neural Stem Cells (Green = neuronal marker Beta-III-Tubulin, Red = N-Cadherin, Blue = Nucleus (Hoechst))|
It is UQ StemCAREs central goal to understand the basic mechanisms of the ageing process and create highly innovative clinical solutions.
To achieve these goals, UQ-StemCARE will generate induced pluripotent stem cells from human and murine fibroblast cells across 100’s of donors of varying ages (young through to old) and genetically modify them using a commonly utilised genome editing technique (CRISPR) to probe possible mechanisms and drivers of ageing.
Such a massive task is impossible to achieve without the assistance of high throughput automated cell engineering and culture platforms (Paull et al. Nature Methods, Sept 2015).
We will establish the world’s first fully automated iPSc culture, generation and genome editing facility that is a necessity for the large and cutting edge stem cell ageing research program developed at UQ StemCARE.
We have partnered with Perkin Elmer to create a world-class high throughput robotic facility for making iPSc, directing them into desired tissue cell types, and rapidly screening for novel therapeutic strategies that rejuvenate stem cells and their environments.
This cutting-edge technology platform will underpin the large amount of cell differentiation and genome modification required to carry out our stem cell based ageing research.