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Stem Cell Research and Therapy

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

Prof Michael S Pepper
Unit Director
  • +27 12 319 2190