Endometrial Stem Cells

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Endometrial Stem Cells

Research Group Head: Associate Professor Caroline Gargett

The Endometrial Stem Cell research group research focus in on characterising endometrial stem/progenitor cells and their role in gynaecological disease. The group has discovered markers of the epithelial progenitors and mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) found in endometrium (uterine lining), enabling us to investigate

  • Basic cellular and molecular biology of human and mouse endometrial stem/progenitor cells
  • The utility of endometrial MSC combined with novel scaffold materials developed with CSIRO collaborators as a cell-based therapy for treating *Pelvic Organ Prolapse. This extremely common condition results from herniation of pelvic organs into the vagina due to childbirth injury. Our tissue engineering approach for vaginal surgical repair shows promise in a rat model and we now developing a sheep model for preclinical studies.
  • Whether endometrial stem/progenitor cells are shed in menstrual blood and gain access to the pelvic cavity during retrograde menstruation, where they establish Endometriosis. This serious chronic disease affects 10% of young women where endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. It causes severe pain and infertility and current treatments are suboptimal.
  • The immunomodulatory properties of human endometrial MSC. Similar to bone marrow MSC, endometrial MSC show anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory properties and promote wound healing in culture and in animal models
  • Endometrial-related infertility where the endometrium fails to support embryo implantation particularly in IVF procedures

 

Other areas of investigation include

  • The development of a model for studying the early development of human endometrium in vivo using human embryonic stem cells
  • Studies on why only a small number of women infected with HPV develop cervical dysplasia and progress to cervical cancer

 

Research Projects:

  • How does the endometrium regenerate? Role of the Wnt signalling pathway.
  • Testing the in vivo regenerative potential of human endometrial epithelial progenitor cells isolated using a new marker
  • Identifying small molecule inhibitors to prevent spontaneous endometrial MSC differentiation during culture expansion.
  • Immunomodulatory properties of human endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC)
  • Role of endometrial stem/progenitor cells in endometriosis
  • Role of endometrial stem/progenitor cells in endometrial injury-induced doubling of pregnancy rates in IVF procedures
  • Developing a large animal preclinical model of pelvic organ prolapse to assess the efficacy of autologous endometrial MSC as a cell based therapy
  • Investigating the mechanism involved in endometrial MSC modulation of the foreign body reaction to implanted synthetic meshes.. This project examines the interaction of endometrial MSC and the innate immune system in transgenic mice.

 

Research Group:

Associate Professor Caroline Gargett (Research Group Head)
Dr James Deane
Dr Fiona Cousins
Dr Kjiana Schwab
Ms Ker Sin Tan
Ms Germana Ryan (research nurse)

Students:

Dr Shanti Gurung
Dr Luke Larmour
Ms Saeedeh Darzi
Ms Rue Ong