Cellular Reprogramming and Perinatal Therapy

Research Overview


Our group comprises Dr. Dafni Moschidou and Mr. Kwan-Leong Hau, as well as 7-8 MSc students throughout the year. We are located at both the Institute for Women’s

Health and The Institute of Child Health at University College London.

Pluripotency describes the ability to differentiate into all the lineages of the three germ layers. In 2006, Yamanaka’s team discovered that pluripotency could be induced in adult fibroblasts by forced expression of a combination of a few defined transcription factors (induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSCs). This provides an opportunity to generate patient-specific cells for disease modeling and drug screening.

We are dedicated to the study of episomal and chemical reprogramming and pre/neonatal cellular therapeutics using episomal and chemically-induced iPSCs.

Our projects aim to:

1) Delineate the epigenetics and signaling pathways controlling the initiation and maintenance of episomal and chemical iPSCs reprogramming; and derive specific cell types from chemically-induced iPSCs.

2) Translate these insights into developing prenatal and neonatal therapies in order to restore or improve function of damaged organs and tissues, either via direct cell replacement, stimulation of endogenous progenitors maturation, or immunomodulation.

We are currently developing methods to generate integration-free clinical-grade patient-specific human iPSCs from easily accessible and minimally invasive tissues, such as amniotic fluid, placenta, cord blood and fetal blood mesenchymal stem cells, using chemicals alone without genetic manipulation or ectopic expression of transcription factors (hCiPSCs).

Our current experimental models focus on Osteogenesis Imperfecta for prenatal cell therapy and Cerebral Palsy for neonatal neurorepair.

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