Overall Goal of the Lab
Our lab is focused on regenerative medicine. For example, we are inspired by the process of limb regeneration in salamanders. We believe that inducing regenerative repair in humans will be a breakthrough to minimize the burden of fibrosis in disease.
Our approach is to use in vitro cell culture models, mouse genetic models, and human clinical trials to explore questions ranging from fundamental basic biology to translational medicine steps to devise new cures for the clinic.
Project #1: Stump project
Before we can regenerate an entire limb, can we at least regenerate the thick type of skin of our palms and soles (“volar” skin) at the stump site of an amputee?
We are currently focusing on cellular therapy and the ability of fibroblasts to modulate the function of neighboring keratinocytes. Here we focus on questions relating to cell-cell communication, cellular engraftment, and mechanisms for tissue identity maintenance. Our work is culminating in an FDA approved trial using cellular therapy in normal human subjects and amputees to modify skin identity.
Project #2: WIHN project
If we cannot grow an entire appendage now in a mammal, can we at least grow a mini-appendage?
In this project we are studying the process known as Wound Induced Hair Neogenesis, where an entirely new hair—also called a mini-appendage given its overlapping developmental biology with limbs—grows in the middle of a scar after a large wound in a mouse. Here we try to understand the factors that promote WIHN in hopes of finding new biology and treatments behind regeneration.
Project #3: dsRNA production and sensing in wounding
What is the origin, regulation and function of dsRNA sensing outside of the context of infection?
In project #2 we have discovered that dsRNA—normally sensed by innate immune mechanisms in an antiviral response—promotes regeneration. DAMPs are Damage Associated Molecular Patterns that are released during wounding and include dsRNA. We are interested in the cell and physiologic functions of dsRNA sensing that have importance outside of the canonical anti-viral response.