Background and significance

Embryogenesis is a process where the interactions between the daughter cells of the fertilized zygote pattern the embryo to generate the body plan. This general principle is also true for the control of organogenesis where the daughters of the progenitor cells, or organ stem cells go on to make the functional organs.

There is a great interest to reveal the cellular and molecular foundations of ontogenesis since impairment in the developmental control genes are typically behind several diseases such as cancer. Moreover once the details of the developmental programming is understood this knowledge can be applied to direct better for example the differentiation of the naive, multipotent cells to the specific fates and understand epigenetics in horizontal and vertical inheritance.

We have learned to generate several cell types from the naive embryonic stem cells or the so called induced pluripotent stem cells. However we still fail to construct anatomically well patterned organs from them. Once this is achieved these capacities can be expected to set the basic for novel clinical applications.  Via these technologies a better use of the human population based genetic data gained from various disease types can be obtained. We should be able to couple wealth of the molecular genetic methodologies to obtain new bioengineering skills for tissue regeneration and for treatment of diseases via gene therapy when coupled to pharmacology and nanotechnology openings for example.

The focus of this research program is to increase our understanding of the fundaments of organogenesis. One of our major goals is to target the mechanisms by which the Wnt signal transduction triggers the developmental program that leads to formation of the functional of the kidney, the nephron. Certain other organs such as the heart, the gonad and the skin are also studied.

Last updated: 24.1.2014