Intestinal stem cell metabolism in health and cancer

Arafath Kaja Najumudeen research group

Cell biology revolves around a crucial concept: cells require nutrients for their survival, just as our bodies rely on nutrition (food) to support proper tissue and overall organismal functions. This essential process of nutrient acquisition is primarily orchestrated by the intestine, serving as the central hub for nutrient sensing and absorption within the body.
In our laboratory, we delve into the intricate mechanisms employed by intestinal cells to secure the vital nutrients and metabolic resources essential for preserving intestinal stem cell fate and function. And, how these mechanisms can be exploited or disrupted in diseases such as cancer.

Our focus areas are:

  1. Understanding the Spatial Relationship Between Intestinal Cell Types and Metabolism: We investigate the intricate spatial interactions and relationships between different types of intestinal cells and their impact on metabolic processes.
  2. How Epithelial Stem Cells Acquire Nutrients to Survive and Maintain Cell Fate: We explore the mechanisms that enable epithelial stem cells to acquire the nutrients necessary for their survival and to uphold their specific cell fates.
  3. How Nutrient Transporters Act as 'Metabolic Gates' Influencing Stem Cells and Malignant Transformation: We delve into the role of nutrient transporters as pivotal regulators, acting as 'metabolic gates' that influence the behavior of stem cells and their potential transformation into cancer cells.
  4. Therapeutic Targeting of Nutrient Transporters for Cancer Treatment: We investigate the feasibility of targeting these nutrient transporters as potential therapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer.

Addressing these questions is integral to gaining key insights into how environmental factors, such as nutrition, exert control over health outcomes. This research avenue holds significant public health relevance and has the potential to offer valuable contributions to our understanding of disease processes and their management.


Arafath Kaja Najumudeen
Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE 

Biocenter 2 
P.O.Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5) 
00014 University of Helsinki 


Arafath is a Principal Investigator/Academy Research Fellow at BI.