Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) play various roles in the body, and their cellular phenotypes change in different conditions. Their ability to differentiate into other cell types means they offer some interesting possibilities in medicine. But scientists don’t fully understand the function of MSCs that reside in tissues (such as the skin, lungs or gastrointestinal tract).
Dr. Lorena Braid, Canada Research Chair in Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Biology, is exploring the mechanisms that MSCs use to monitor their environments and influence the behaviours of other types of cells. She and her research team are using new biomarkers to characterize MSCs in situ (locally) to develop in vitro ("test tube") models they can use to study physiological processes. Ultimately, their findings could help identify diagnostic and drug targets to combat cancer, immune dysregulation, aging and wound healing.