About the Lab
Hematopoiesis is the process of blood formation from hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that takes place in the bone marrow. The major focus of Lacorazza lab is to better understand the molecular control of normal and malignant hematopoiesis and the development and function of lymphocytes. HSCs are maintained throughout the lifetime of an individual by a delicate balance between quiescence, a non-proliferative state poised to re-enter the cell cycle, and proliferation. Cell division exposes stem cells to several fate choices: self-renewal (a cell division that generates daughter HSCs), differentiation to blood cells, cell death, or mobilization to extramedullary tissues. How these processes are regulated at a molecular level is a fundamental problem in stem cell biology that has clear implications in bone marrow transplants, cell and gene therapy, and cancer biology.
Leukemic stem cells (LSC), a population of blood cancer cells with properties of HSC, take advantage of quiescence to evade from the deleterious effects of chemodrugs and of self-renewal to ensure continuous production of leukemic cells, causing disease relapse when treatment fail. Therefore, targeted therapy of leukemic stem cells has the potential to eradicate disease and cure patients.
Lymphocytes exhibit striking similarities to hematopoietic stem cells –mainly quiescence and self-renewal- that allow them to exit quiescence, expand upon exposure to foreign antigens, and return to a long-lived resting state primed to quickly respond to secondary encounters with same antigen (immunological memory). Emerging evidences suggest a crosstalk between the immune system and normal and leukemic hematopoiesis.
Our Current Projects
- Genetic Regulation of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Maintenance
- Pathobiology and Treatment of Leukemia
- Development and Function of Lymphocytes
These studies are relevant for immunological recovery post cytoablative treatments (i.e. chemodrugs or radiation therapy), bone marrow transplantation, cell-based therapy, long-lasting immunity after vaccination, leukemogenesis, and development of new therapies using pre-clinical mouse models.
Read more about our projects.