Stem Cell Self-Renewal
Stem cells are critical for tissue maintenance and replenish themselves through a process known as self-renewal. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanism of self-renewal would allow for stem cells to be expanded in culture. We found that two key signaling pathways, PI3K/Akt and Wnt/β-catenin, cooperatively stimulate self-renewal by promoting survival and proliferation while preventing differentiation of stem cells. Using pharmacologic agents to stimulate these pathways, we’ve achieved greater than 100-fold expansion of a subpopulation of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells with the greatest functional capacity (Perry et al., Genes & Dev. 2011). Current efforts include the clinical translation of these results.