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Congratulations to Maddie’s Vision Fellowship recipient Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan

We’re thrilled to announce that Developmental Stem cell Biologist Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan, from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, The University of Adelaide, is the recipient of the Grant Round 2, 2022 Maddie’s Vision Fellowship for his project: “Discovery of novel niche factors to improve long-term stem cell transplantation in bone marrow failure syndromes”.

For many patients with Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes, bone marrow transplant is the only hope for a cure. However, for a transplant to be effective, the transplanted stem cells need to mature and develop into long-term healthy blood producing cells.  If this doesn’t happen, the transplant could fail. 

Currently, there are two major problems with the management of Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome patients that receive a bone marrow transplant: 

  • A growth factor treatment to stimulate stem cell recovery is limited to only one agent, thrombopoietin (eltrombopag), and the majority of patients treated with this fail to achieve adequate blood cell recovery. 
  • Patients with bone marrow failure syndromes such as Fanconi Syndrome experience difficulties with a bone marrow transplant because of changes in the surrounding tissue (the niche). 

Due to these issues, there is an urgent need to increase the number of marrow-stimulating molecules and improve stem cell outcomes for patients with severe marrow failure.

To address this, Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan and his team have devised a critical model of bone marrow failure. This has enabled them to discover a number of previously unrecognised growth factors and small molecules that regulate the most primitive blood stem cells that give rise to long-term healthy adult stem cells. 

Building on this discovery, Dr Chandrakanthan’s research focuses on developing a growth factor based treatment to help the transplanted stem cells to mature and produce healthy adult blood.

Dr Chandrakanthan’s research has potential to transform the transplantation management of patients with Aplastic Anaemia and Fanconi Syndrome and improve on current therapy.

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