Takahiko Hara, the department chief of the Institute since April of 2018, has been the leader of the Stem Cell Project since 2005. After receiving Ph.D from the Graduate School of Science, Univ. of Tokyo in 1990, he conducted researches at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, USA, as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Atsushi Miyajima. He molecularly cloned a cDNA encoding mouse IL-3 receptor alpha subunit. Next, he developed ex vivo culture system of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros region of mouse embryo. Since then, molecular mechanism of HSC development has been his major research interest. In the mean while, he started to investigated regulators of spermatogonial stem cells and muscle regeneration factors. Subsequently, he focused on a RNA helicase DDX1 and a CXC-type chemokine CXCL14, as they are involved in tumorigenesis and anti-tumor immunity, respectively.
Hematopoietic stem cells are essential to the life of an organism, sending blood to the organs and spawning the immune cells that fight cancer and infectious diseases. In Japan, a society that is experiencing demographic aging, what is needed is the development of new medical technologies to ensure sources for bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions. Further, the growth and metastasis of cancer cells has been found to share the same molecules used by hematopoietic stem cells.
This project seeks to develop methods for efficiently producing hematopoietic stem cells, platelets, and immune cells from iPS cells as well as new cancer therapies that target stem cell genes.
Project Leader Takahiko Hara