The Stem Cell Research and Therapy Unit, based at the University of Pretoria, researches ways of lowering the South African infection rate of both communicable diseases (infectious diseases like Tuberculosis / TB) and non-communicable diseases (non-infectious diseases like cancer).
Key focus areas
- Creating an HIV-resistant immune system using hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs);
- Identifying host targets to decrease CCR5 (one of the two HIV co-receptors);
- Starting an HIV gene therapy platform - and gene therapy projects for other diseases (at a later stage) - using immunodeficient and ‘humanised mice’ (mice with a human immune system);
- Investigating types of HSCs and their vulnerability to HIV infection;
- Assessing the effectiveness of specific HSCs in gene therapy;
- Improving transduction (introducing foreign cells to the human body) methods;
- Identifying new pre-and post-transplantation selection techniques;
- Studying the human leukocyte antigen (a protein found on most cells which is used to determine a donor match) of the southern African population;
- Providing cell therapy products for clinical trials on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs);
- Locating and assessing types of MSCs;
- Identifying cells at their various stages;
- Working with experts at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s Reproductive Biology Laboratory on gene therapy use for reproductive problems; and
- Addressing ethical, legal and social matters relating to stem cell research and use.
For more information, visit the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine's Website