Genome Engineering Stem Cells
We develop approaches to assemble large designer segments of DNA and then write them into/over any region of the human genome. It can be repeated, thereby enabling the writing of millions of base pairs of DNA. We focus on engineering human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) because they can become any cell in the body.
We are building "personalized" universal human stem cells, as an off-the-shelf cellular platform. This opens up new ways to build smarter, safer, and more efficacious cell therapies and regenerative medicines. The eventual goal is an integrative framework for programming cellular processes, such as transcription, cell fate decisions, and cell-to-cell communication.
Programmable Immune Cells
We are building programmable Dendritic Cells from human iPSCs as a new platform technology. Dendritic Cells mediate the innate and adaptive immune responses and activate immature T-cells. We will use these programmable Dendritic Cells to find new T-cell receptors from the blood of cancer patients. In addition, Dendritic Cells can also be used as a cellular platform for cancer vaccination, reducing autoimmune responses, or tolerizing the body to cell/tissue transplants.
How do cells interpret signals from each other? What is the language by which cells communicate? Using our universal iPSCs, we are developing "synthetic cell consortia" that interface with other cells in the body. Our ability to write large genetic circuits into any cell type enables us to program these cells to one day recognize different cell types, diseased cells, and then respond therapeutically within the body. The eventually goal of this program is to build a language and grammar for how cells communicate with each other, perform functions, and change and respond over time.