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The Braid lab studies human mesenchymal stem and stromal cells (MSCs). My research project in this field focuses on identifying MSC biomarkers that can distinguish this cell type from a similar type in the body, called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts commonly inhabit the same spaces as MSCs and appear identical. No single marker has been found to detect all types of MSCs. Therefore, the identification of a single biomarker is crucial, as it would allow these cells to be correctly recognized in the human body for further research. This research could determine the roles that MSCs play in human development as well as tissue repair and regeneration. The potential biomarkers I have been testing were identified in a previous study but require validation. This includes using colored antibodies that attach and visually label the biomarker proteins in MSCs and fibroblasts. After viewing these cells under a microscope, the difference in color between the cell types indicates the biomarker presence or expression. I will also test the abundance of these biomarkers at the gene level using qPCR. This technique allows us to measure how many copies of the biomarker are in the process of being produced by the cell. We can use this technique to determine if there are measurable differences in biomarker transcripts between MSCs and fibroblasts. Ultimately, identifying these MSC biomarkers is fundamental in recognizing these cells in animal models. Models that are critical in determining the true origins and functions of MSCs in human health, and development.
Dr. Lorena Braid, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University
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