Blood Development

Research area:  Stem cell biology

Using human pluripotent stem cells to understand blood development, model blood diseases, and generate blood stem cells to treat children with leukaemia and bone marrow failure who lack a suitable donor.

Our laboratory uses the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to study the development of blood cells and diseases of the blood system.

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The Blood Development laboratory uses the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to study the development of blood cells and diseases of the blood system. This work will help to find cures for diseases such as leukaemias (cancers of the blood) and bone marrow failure, where insufficient blood cells are made. These illnesses represent a major cause of death in children.

Our ability to treat these children will be enhanced by increasing knowledge of how these illnesses develop. Mimicking the diseases in the laboratory will permit testing of new combinations of drugs that could more effectively treat leukaemias or stimulate blood growth in children with bone marrow failure.

Blood stem cell transplantation is an additional component of therapy for some children with blood diseases, but not all children who would benefit from this treatment can find a suitably matched donor, ideally a sibling.

Transplantation of imperfectly matched blood stem cells frequently leads to graft versus host disease in which donor immune cells attack the patient, possibly resulting in serious illness or death. For children who lack a matched blood stem cell donor, we could prevent this complication if we could transplant child-specific blood stem cells made in the laboratory.

Our studies will teach us more about blood formation in health and disease, helping us to discover new drug treatments and develop new blood stem cell therapies for sick children and adolescents.

Contact us

Professor Andrew Elefanty