Hematology and Transplantation (HAT) Research Lab
The Aljitawi lab is primarily focused on studying the human hematopoietic stem cells and their interaction with their microenvironment. Transplanting stem cells from healthy human leukocyte antigen (HLA) compatible donors provides many blood cancer patients with a potential cure. Unfortunately, a significant number of patients have no compatible donors. For these people, using human umbilical cord blood as a source of the stem cells is a promising alternative, since these cells appear to be more readily accepted by patients. Unfortunately, umbilical cord blood cells, unlike those obtained from bone marrow, do not readily home in on and engraft in their intended target.
Work previously done in the lab suggests that the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) is a major factor in this miss-targeting. To this end, a current focus in the lab is finding mechanisms to effectively block erythropoietin and allow the healthy stem cells to properly engraft in the patient.
Using the knowledge gained in studying translational research concepts and techniques, we have found many ways to study and improve umbilical cord blood transplants. This work involves hyperbaric oxygen treatments, effects of Wharton's jelly matrix, studies on erythropoietin (EPO), its receptor, and RasGRP3. Click on the project tab to learn more.