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The Unit on Reproductive and Regenerative Medicine conducts translational research on disorders affecting reproduction. Particular areas of interest are endometrial stem cells and conditions affecting the endometrium, which can result in a wide variety of gynecologic problems such as scarring of the uterine cavity (Asherman's syndrome), abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, infertility due to implantation failures, and recurrent pregnancy loss.
We focus on characterizing endometrial stem-cell function, possible therapeutic applications of endometrial stem cells, sources of endometrial stem cells, and cellular therapies to correct endometrial related conditions. The model systems we use include: (i) patients at the NIH who have undergone hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation for non-malignant hematologic conditions (e.g., sickle cell disease); (ii) the autologous Rhesus macaque peripheral blood stem-cell transplant model created by our collaborators in the Tisdale Lab. We are using these models to study endometrial engraftment from bone marrow–derived cells and the endometrial effects of bone marrow–derived cells residing in the uterus.
In addition, we are studying a rare familial syndrome with a reproductive phenotype due to a germline mutation in the gene HRPT2. Patients with this disorder suffer from life-threatening heavy menstrual bleeding (often requiring hysterectomy at young ages), recurrent pregnancy loss, and benign and malignant uterine tumors (frequently mesodermal lineages). We are using endometrial cells from patients with this condition to generate reproductive disease–specific, induced pluripotent stem cells with which to study reproductive disorders.