Most of our organs are constantly renewed through the involvement of stem cell population(s). These stem cells are strictly regulated to ensure a life-long homeostasis. Because of aging, disease, or injury, the organ homeostasis collapses, leading to a transitory or permanent organ failure. Our aspiration is to decipher the molecular networks involved in cell fate acquisition, maintenance and differentiation to propose new regenerative medicine strategies.
One of these renewed organs is the cornea, the transparent tissue at the surface of the eye. It undergoes a life-long renewal which is instrumental to maintain clear vision. Injuries, aging, or diseases can lead to a loss of cornea transparency, and ultimately loss of vision. Around 28 million people suffer from corneal defects worldwide, among them 10 million people are corneal blind. The most prominent causes are Dry Eye Diseases (up to 34% of the elderly), and corneal abrasions (about 1 million cases per year in USA alone). Unfortunately, the lack of cornea donors is a roadblock to treat all patients.
We focus on the steps leading the stem cell fate determination and on the molecular cues that trigger their homing to the niche. Moreover, we decipher the genetic network, which either maintains the stemness or leads to cell differentiation, and how this network is modulated during aging, genetic defects and/or upon corneal trauma.
Read more about Fred's and his group's research: