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    Research home > Beat Cancer Project > A new and safe method of generating stem cells for the treatment of leukaemia patients

    A new and safe method of generating stem cells for the treatment of leukaemia patients

    Professor Xin-Fu Zhou

    Generation of stem cells with small molecules

    Our research

    Leukaemia is a common cancer which can be cured by radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, the application of bone marrow transplants is restricted by the limited number of donors. It is possible to generate stem-cells by reprogramming skin cells. The current technique for reprogramming cells however, involves the use of genetic methods which can cause changes in genes and increase the risk of cancer. 

    We are investigating a safe method of reprogramming human fibroblasts (stem cells) with small molecules. These reprogrammed stem cells can be used as a source of donor cells for the treatment of patients with Leukaemia.

    What we aim to achieve 

    If successful, cancer patients will benefit. Individual patients can have bone marrow made from their reprogrammed skin stem-cells.

    Our next steps and milestones

    Continuous support is essential for the next steps of our research. We aim to achieve the following milestones:

    • Generate a method to add the markers CD45 antigen and EGFP onto human fibroblasts (stem cells) so that they can be identified and isolated. They would become CD45 EGFP positive cells.
    • Turn (differentiate) those cells into specific white blood cells (lymphocytes)
    • Test the concept in humans by using patient stem cells (fibroblasts) to make bone marrow (differentiated CD45+ lymphocytes) for therapy.

    What motivates you to pursue cancer research?

    I have a strong personal motivation to make a contribution towards cancer research. When I was young, my father and uncle both died of cancer. Several other relatives have also suffered from cancer. Finding a cure for cancer is my goal. I believe our research has great potential to cure patients and save lives in the future.

    My message to supporters

    This is a challenging project, which requires continuous financial support. We have made progress, but to fully develop a method of safely reprogramming stem cells, research funding is essential. We are grateful to the generous supporters of our research, who have made this research possible.



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