STEM CELL BIOLOGY & IMMUNOLOGY

The main area of interest is on adult stem cells - specifically limbal epithelial stem cells, which play an important role in corneal epithelial homeostasis and hence corneal transparency. We have earlier established a two parameter concept for identifying potential stem cells, and developed a simple method for ex-vivo expansion of the limbal/buccal epithelial stem cells for corneal surface reconstruction in limbal stem cell deficient patients in compliance with good manufacturing practice. With the objective of improving stem cell expansion and transplantation outcome, the current focus is to understand the mechanism involved in the maintenance of stemness at

(i) molecular level - the role of specific genes, regulatory elements and associated signaling pathways and
(ii) cellular level - the microenvironment or niche in the limbal stroma.

Research Areas

  Studies on the characterization of limbal niche - their role in maintenance and ex vivo expansion of human corneal epithelial stem cells
  Molecular signature of human corneal epithelial stem cells (CESCs)
  ?Np63a expression only in small limbal basal cells with high N/C ratio and not in cells with low N/C ratio

Ongoing Projects

  1. Enrichment of human limbal epithelial stem cells to understand the stem cell related properties by whole genome analysis and p63 isoform expression profile, Funding Agency: Department of Biotechnology (2011-2014).
  2. To analyse the limbal epithelial stem cell niche in limbal stem cell deficient patients. Funding Agency: AMRF-Aurolab Research Grant (2011-2014)
  3. Effect of VEGF levels in Tenon fibroblast on the outcome of glaucoma surgery. Funding Agency:AMRF-Aurolab Research Grant (2012-2014).

Projects Completed

  1. Factors Responsible for the Generation of Epithelial Sheet Rich in Stem Cells under ex-vivo conditions from the Limbal and Buccal Biopsy Champalimaud. Funding Agency: AMRF (2008-09).
  2. Developing Xenobiotic-free Culture Conditions to Generate Stem-Cell Rich Epithelium for Corneal Surface Reconstruction. Funding Agency: ALCON Anterior Segment Research Grant (2008-2011).
  3. Antigenic Mimicry between Leptospiral and Human Lens Proteins. Funding Agency: ALCON Anterior Segment Research Grant (2008-2011).
  4. Cytokine Profile in Aqueous Humor of Parasitic Granuloma. Funding Agency: ALCON Anterior Segment Research Grant (2008-2011).
  5. Translational Research to Generate Corneal/Buccal Epithelial Stem Cells with GMP Compliance for Corneal Surface and Socket Reconstruction. Funding Agency: Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) (2011-2013).
  6. Evaluation of surface free energy of Aravind Aqueous Drainage Implant (AADI) in comparison with Baerveldt implant. Funding Agency: AMRF-Aurolab Research Grant (2012-2013).

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