Stem Cell Rejuvenation
Most mammalian tissues contain adult stem cells that become active to repair injuries and uphold tissue maintenance throughout the life of the organism. The unique ability of stem cells to repair tissues possesses the potential to pave the way for future medical intervention in the area of regenerative medicine and provides valuable insight and understanding to the science of aging.
Long-term maintenance of stem cells is accomplished through a state known as stem cell quiescence, which was previously believed to be a state of dormancy. However, recent advancements in stem cell biology have suggested that quiescence is vital to the preservation of stem cell sustainability and potency, is actively regulated, and plays a role in rapid mobilization of stem cells when necessary. Prof Tom Cheung and his lab are using next-generation sequencing techniques to investigate the mechanisms of the activity of stem cells at the epigenetic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. New discoveries have shown that the loss of stem cell quiescence may result in a decrease in the stem cell pool in various tissues.
Advancements in the understanding of stem cells have far-reaching implications in regenerative therapies, disease and aging. Certain therapies already incorporate the use of stem cells such as in bone marrow transplants.
Prof Tom Cheung is S H Ho Assistant Professor of Life Science. He is the recipient of the 2015 Croucher Innovation Award. Prof Cheung is a member of the Center for Stem Cell Research and the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at HKUST.