The Ghevaert group is based at the Cambridge Blood Centre. Its programme of research is based on the production of blood cells in vitro from haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) with a particular interest in platelet and megakaryocyte biology and red cell production.
The group has a keen interest in translating biological discoveries into applications for transfusion medicine and uses a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses cell biology, engineering, and computational biology.
In order to achieve a highly efficient, highly pure production of blood cells we have taken the approach of identifying key transcriptional regulators of lineage decision and cellular maturation. These are identified through genome-wide expression studies, association studies in human cohorts (GWAS) and detailed knowledge of transcription factor network within the developing blood cells. PSCs are subsequently forward programmed into blood cells through combinatorial overexpression of selected candidate transcription factors.
In addition to intrinsic cellular identity, the bone marrow environment itself provides essential cues for blood cell maturation (the niche). We aim to recreate these cues, using GMP-compatible methods to translate into future manufacturing processes. This includes 3D functionalised scaffolds and the use of bioreactors and microfluidics (supported by an award from the MRC Regenerative Medicine Committee).
Dr Ghevaert also has particular expertise in carrying out human studies looking at blood cell recovery and survival after transfusion, which is directly applicable to the development of novel cellular therapies.