The growth and differentiation of haemopoietic cells in the bone marrow (BM) is regulated by complex interactions between the cells and their surrounding microenvironment. In highly organized compartments known as “niches”, complex cell-to-cell, cell-to-extracellular matrix and cell-to-cytokine interactions regulate the fate of HSCs in terms of self-renewal, differentiation, proliferation or apoptosis. Abnormal interaction may lead to profound BM failure or even to clonal haemopoiesis. The majority of the haemopoiesis supporting stromal cells derive from a distinct progenitor, namely the MSC. This cell is emerging as a novel therapeutic tool in regenerative medicine due to its potential to generate cells of varying lineages and to distinct immune-regulatory properties. Other cell populations with immune suppressive properties that may have a role in the BM niche are the Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs) that mainly downmodulate the T-cell function.
We are interested in:
- Characterizing the reserves and functional characteristics of BM-derived HSCs and MSCs in BM failure syndromes and lymphoproliferative diseases with special interest in myelodysplastic and hypoplastic syndromes, chronic idiopathic neutropenia and low grade lymphomas.
- Identifying differences between BM and Wharton Jelly derived MSCs in terms of the molecular and functional properties including the capacity to proliferate and differentiate in biomaterials towards osteocytes and chondrocytes for applications in regenerative medicine.
- Investigating the implication of aberrant immune cell populations such as T-cells with skewed T-cell receptor Vβ repertoire profile and myeloid derived suppressor cells, in the pathogenesis of BM failure syndromes.
- Studying the therapeutic application of autologous BM-derived MSCs, under GMP conditions, in degenerative diseases.
- Investigating the role of MDSCs in BM failure syndromes.
Our research has been funded by grants of EU FP6 (Genostem) and FP7 (Transpot), Ministries of Education and Development of Hellas, University of Crete Research Secretariat, Association for International Cancer Research (AICR, UK), COST, Horizon-2020 and Pharmaceutical Companies.
Our new clinical research project under Horizon-2020:
MyPal aims to foster early palliative care for cancer patients by leveraging patient reported outcome (PRO) systems through their adaptation to the personal needs of the cancer patient and his/her caregiver(s). Through this intervention, MyPal aspires to empower cancer patients (and their family members) in capturing more accurately their conditions, communicate them with a seamless and effective way to their healthcare providers and, ultimately, foster the time for action through the rapid identification of important deviations in the patient’s state and QoL. MyPal will exploit technological advances on digital health to support patients, family members and healthcare providers in gaining value through this systematic and comprehensive PRO-based intervention. MyPal will demonstrate and validate the proposed intervention in two clinical studies, an RCT for adults with hematologic cancers and an observational study for children suffering from solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, hence targeting different age groups and cancer types. The clinical studies will be conducted in diverse healthcare settings in 6 clinical sites (including the Hematology Department of the University Hospital of Heraklion) from 5 European countries.
Please, visit MyPal's website.