Turning human pluripotent stem cells into highly-pure and engraftable tissue progenitors
Our overall goal is to understand the mechanisms through which stem cells differentiate into progressively-specialized cell-types and to harness this knowledge to artificially generate pure populations of desired cell-types from stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs, which include embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells) have the remarkable ability to generate any of the hundreds of diverse cell-types in the body. However, it has been notoriously difficult to guide PSCs to differentiate into a pure population of a given cell-type. Current differentiation strategies typically generate heterogeneous cell populations unsuitable for basic research or clinical applications. To address this challenge, we mapped the cascade of branching lineage choices through which PSCs differentiate into a variety of endodermal and mesodermal cell-types. We further developed effective methods to differentiate PSCs into specific lineages by providing the extracellular signal(s) that specify a given lineage while inhibiting the signals that induce the alternate fate(s), enabling the generation of highly-pure human heart, bone and liver progenitors from PSCs. The human tissue progenitors are engraftable and could form tissues in mice. The ability to efficiently generate large numbers of such progenitors in vitro may have important ramifications for regenerative medicine.
Lay Teng Ang is currently a Siebel Investigator and Instructor at Stanford University. She received her B.A. (Honours) in Bioengineering from the National University of Singapore and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge under an A*STAR Scholarship. Dr. Ang has fourteen years of research experience and dedicated the past twelve years working with human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and their differentiation towards endodermal and mesodermal cells. Her ultimate goal is to develop new human cell types for use in regenerative medicine and drug toxicology testing. Her lab at Stanford has been supported by California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Stanford-UC Berkeley Siebel Stem Cell Institute.