Craniofacial regeneration: from Evo-Devo to therapeutic applications

Developmental & Stem Cell Biology has become a crucial field for the understanding of tissue regeneration and implementation of regenerative medicine. The ability to repair or regenerate tissue is a fundamental property present in all multicellular organisms, but there is tremendous diversity in how this process occurs within vertebrates. In particular, adult mammals (including conventional experimental models such as mice and rats) have limited regenerative capacities compared to other model organisms such as amphibians and reptiles, which offer the best examples of regeneration in vertebrates. Hence, studying such phyla constitutes one useful priority to improve general understanding of tissue development, patterning and regeneration, and may help identify new targets and/or new therapeutic approaches for regenerative medicine.

Our laboratory studies the molecular genetic basis responsible for the development, evolution and/or regeneration of different craniofacial tissues with unique regenerative capacity in non-mammalian vertebrates. Indeed, in contrast to the long-lasting interest in craniofacial development in mammals, and the numerous studies resulting from it, relatively little is known about the embryonic development and adult regeneration of these tissues in other vertebrate classes. The continuing interest in craniofacial research is quite justified since craniofacial diseases and disorders account for a considerable and increasing portion of health problems worldwide. In addition, craniofacial organs are the best targets for evolutionary and ecological studies, because of their excellent fossil record, and show high levels of morphological variation and innovation that will be of crucial importance to discover key evolutionary changes in tissue development.

The systematic approach of our laboratory to combine the two fields "Evo-Devo” and “Regenerative/Stem Cell Biology” is unique, and our goals are to provide an evolutionary context to the key signaling pathways of biological regeneration. Additional information can be found in our recent publications (see Publication Page).

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