When people get older, organs take much longer to regenerate. Cell cycles become less efficient, there are fewer cell divisions and cells regenerate slower.Ageing also reduces the number of stem cells and thereby impairs regeneration. Moreover, mutations of cell cycle genes can also lead to increased cell proliferation and thereby promotes cancer formation. Our research efforts are focused to identify regulatory proteins of the cell cycle that can improve tissue regeneration or suppress tumor formation.

We use transgenic mouse and zebrafish models to determine the role of cell cycle proteins during tissue regeneration and cancer. We generate animal models where the expression of cell cycle proteins is altered in particular organs. We then evaluate whether this influences the morphology and function of different tissues by microscopic and molecular analysis.

These analyses are performed in our newly established Dutch Molecular Pathology Center (DMPC) at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht, a unique worldwide collaboration research center that is specialized in the analysis of genetically modified animals. By studying animal pathology, we hope to unravel the molecular mechanisms behind (dis)regulation of cell growth and division. This fundamental knowledge can help to develop new therapies. In the upcoming years, we expect to extend the life expectancy and quality of life by suppressing cancer formation, and improving tissue regeneration in elderly patients.

Click here for Alain’s profile.