Mesenchymal Stem Cell Research Group
Adult bone marrow contains a non-haematopoietic, stromal stem cell population with the ability to form clonogenic, adherent colonies comprised of fibroblast-like cells (CFU-F: colony forming units-fibroblast). The ex vivo expanded progeny of CFU-F have been shown to develop into different stromal cell lineages (myelosupportive stroma, adipocytes, smooth muscle cells, myoblasts, chondrocytes and osteoblasts) and are thought to arise from a common, self-replicating multi-potential stem cell referred to as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) or bone marrow stromal stem cells. The Mesenchymal Stem Cell Laboratory, Headed by Prof. Stan Gronthos, examines the transcriptional and epigenetic factors that regulate MSC self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation. In addition, research efforts have focused on identifying the factors central to MSC mediated regulation of haematopoiesis, angiogenesis and immune cell modulation. Importantly, many of these molecular processes are considered underlying mechanisms that influence tumour cell development. A new collaboration with Dr. Dan Worthley and Prof. Andrew Zannettino is investigating a unique skeletal progenitor cell that gives rise to bone and cartilage in the context of bone fracture and osteoarthritis.
Other collaborations with Prof. Peter Anderson, and Prof. Andrew Zannettino are exploring the development of novel drug targets to treat craniosynostosis or premature fusion of the coronal sutures in the cranium of children suffering with Saethre- Chotzen Syndrome. Clinically, MSC are considered as novel therapeutic agents with the potential for repairing damaged connective tissue due to trauma, disease or congenital conditions.
Together with Prof. Andrew Zannettino and our commercial partner, Mesoblast Ltd, (founded in 2004 based on our intellectual property), we are moving forward into Phase II/III human clinical trails for orthopaedic, cardiovascular, immunotherapy and cancer applications. Our continuing research into the basic properties of MSC will help develop effective and safe therapeutic strategies in the future for a wide variety of clinical indications.