In our lab, we are particularly focused on the complex interplay that we recently uncovered between myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) hematopoietic cells and the surrounding stromal cells that constitute the bone marrow microenvironment or “niche” (Medyouf et al., Cell Stem Cell, 2014). We endeavor to elucidate how specific cellular elements and molecular pathways within the bone marrow microenvironment contribute to disease pathogenesis and progression in MDS.
Because of the pivotal role of niche cells in the control of stem cell function, targeting the interactions between niche and hematopoietic cells represents a particularly attractive opportunity to manipulate the niche support, an approach that is largely under-exploited, in particular in MDS. These future niche mediated-therapies might also be exploited to improve the regenerative abilities of the bone marrow niche to promote hematopoietic reconstitution following stem cell transplantation, the only potential curative treatment for MDS and other leukemias.
Our group strives to improve the outcome of patients with MDS through a better understanding of the biology underlying this disease. We use co-culture systems, genetic mouse models as well as unique patient-derived xenograft models to allow functional evaluation of our findings and pre-clinical drug testing of new compounds/new combination treatments. We closely interact with clinicians to translate our findings into potential new therapeutic strategies for MDS and pave the way to improving MDS patients’ outcome.