Michael Andäng – Biophysics of stem cell and tissue growth

Research in our group aims for a deeper understanding of the factors that control self-renewal in stem cells. Understanding the role of such factors is essential when developing regenerative therapies but also therapies against self-renewing tumor initiating cells (cancer stem cells) that underlie tumor relapse and metastasis.

Self-renewal is the capacity of a stem cell to maintain a stem cell identity while realizing its potential to differentiate. Self-renewal necessarily also entails maintained proliferative capacity.

In our studies we aim to identify factors that:

  • induce the transition from quiescence to active proliferation in stem cells to allow tissue repair/engineering.
  • protect stem cells during radio-/chemotherapy.
  • target the proliferative and metastatic capacity in cancer stem cells.

To this end we explore how biophysical mechanisms, involving membrane potential and electrochemical signaling, affect stem cell behavior and morphology associated with growth, proliferation and migration. We furthermore explore how photobiological and biophysical tools (e.g. optogenetics, ion channels) may integrate with these functions and aim to identify potential downstream effects on the cell intrinsic molecular clock and on metabolism.

We work with an experimental systems biology approach reaching from pharmacology, small molecule screens and genetic validations in stem cells, cancer stem cells and mouse and zebrafish models, extending to genomics (RNAseq) and a range of biophysical methods.