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Bone Marrow Niche

To identify novel therapeutics that can target the bone marrow environment to destroy and prevent leukemia. By better understanding the optimal bone marrow conditions needed to support healthy blood stem cells, this study also has the potential to improve stem cell transplantation therapies.

In order to function properly, stem cells are highly dependent upon associations with other cell types in their environment or “niche.” Previous work by the Bhatia lab established that both healthy blood stem cells and leukemic stem cells are found within uniquely specialized regions in the bone marrow. These concepts are being further explored by reconfiguring the bone marrow environment at the expense of healthy stem cell populations in order to understand how leukemic disease spreads.

To this end, bone marrow and blood samples are collected from leukemia patients at diagnosis, and following treatment with chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation. These samples are analyzed to evaluate leukemic stem cells and the composition of the bone marrow environment. These results are compared to experimental models of human leukemia grown in immune-deficient in vivo models. These models allow testing and cellular analysis of the bone marrow niche, which facilitates leukemic vs. healthy blood stem cell growth.


Picture Name Organization
David Allan, MD, FRCPC Picture David Allan, MD, FRCPC Scientist, Regenerative Medicine Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Mitchell Sabloff, MD, FRCPC Picture Mitchell Sabloff, MD, FRCPC Director, Leukemia Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Anargyros Xenocostas, MD, FRCPC Picture Anargyros Xenocostas, MD, FRCPC Department of Hematology, London Health Sciences Centre
Brian Leber, MD, FRCPC Picture Brian Leber, MD, FRCPC Professor, Division of Hematology and Thromboembolism, Department of Medicine; Associate Member, Department of Oncology, McMaster University
Ronan Foley, MD, FRCPC Picture Ronan Foley, MD, FRCPC Director, Clinical Stem Cell Laboratory, Juravinski Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences



Mick Bhatia

Mick Bhatia

Director and Senior Scientist