The Stem Cell Biotechnology group integrates the Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapeutics (BSCBT) sub-group headed by Lino Ferreira and four emerging research sub-groups at CNC, the sub-group of Cancer Stem Cells (CSC) headed by Pedro Castelo Branco, the sub-group of Cell Reprogramming and Developmental Hematopoiesis (CRDH) headed by Filipe Pereira, the sub-group of Stem cell metabolism (SCM) headed by Ricardo Neves and the sub-group of Stem Cells and Drug Screening (SCDS) headed by Hugo Fernandes. The group leader of Stem Cell Biotechnology group is Lino Ferreira. All emerging sub-groups were created in 2013 and are part of the strategy of CNC to reinforce the area of stem cells in the institution. A new research facility located in Cantanhede houses all sub-groups (see below).
The established BSCBT sub-group is composed of researchers with a solid track record as independent researchers, as reflected in many senior publications in high-impact journals and significant contributions to their fields. The group has attracted approximately 5 million euros of research funding in the last 5 years, including an ERC starting grant. All the sub-groups that participate in this group share common scientific interests in the area of stem cells, specifically for cardiovascular applications. The emerging SCDS sub-group is interested to study the mechanisms controlling stem cell survival and engraftment after in vivo transplantation. The group uses a combination of high-throughput screening with systems biology approaches to identify pro-survival/engraftment small molecules.
The emerging CRDH sub-group is interested to generate and functionally characterize hematopoietic stem cell-like cells from somatic cells (murine and human). The group is interested to study the mechanism of hematopoietic stem cell specification and for that purpose uses a combination of cell biology tools, gene expression and systems biology analyses. The SCM sub-group is exploring how metabolic modulation can impact on stem cell physiology. It focuses on the relationship between metabolism and chromatin structure, transcription and splicing using stem cell biology tools and nanotechnology platforms able to modulate mitochondrial function (mito-NPs) in the context of cardiac development and disease. The CSC sub-group is interested to develop strategies to combat blood- and neural-related cancers using a combination of molecular tools and drug delivery systems
All the sub-groups integrated in the Stem Cell Biotechnology Group are located in a new building of CNC with full access to general equipment and core facilities located in the new CNC infrastructure such as a microscopy facility, flow cytometry facility, genomic facility, proteomic facility, a cell culture facility, and an animal housing facility (rodent facility). All the sub-groups of this Stem Cell Biotechnology group are developing collaborative research projects. For example, BSCBT sub-group is developing a collaborative project with SCDS sub-group in the development of a blood vessel on a chip generated from endothelial cells differentiated from pluripotent stem cells. The chip is able to predict embryonic vascular toxicity (manuscript submitted). In addition, FCT has recently funded a proposal (PTDC/BIM-MED/1118/2012) to identify stem cell pro-survival factors that will have the contribution of both groups. BSCBT sub-group and CRDH sub-group are sharing the co-supervision of a PhD student that will develop a platform for the reprogramming of human fibroblasts into human hematopoietic stem cells. Moreover, SCM and BSCBT are developing several projects in collaboration in the area of nanomedicine (PTDC/CTM/099659/2008). Finally, BSCBT sub-group and CSC sub-group are participating in a research project funded by COMPETE (stemcellbiotech) to develop nanomaterials to target cancer stem cells.