The research efforts in the Sabaawy laboratory is focused on studying normal stem cell development and cancer stem cells utilizing patient-derived cells, genome sequencing, tumor initiation models, 3D stem cell organoid cultures and zebrafish and humanized mouse xenografts for drug discovery. These studies aim to dissect normal stem cell developmental pathways, and how cancer stem cells divert from these regulatory pathways. One major pathway for research focus in the laboratory is the regulation of stem cell self-renewal by the polycomb gene BMI1 and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors p15 and p16 regulating the cell cycle and senescence. Utilizing novel organoid cultures, CRISPR- and recombinase-mediated genome editing and drug modifiers together with transgenic and xenograft approaches; the laboratory is generating models for precision therapy of several cancers such as prostate and renal cancers, glioblastomas and leukemias.
The laboratory houses the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey zebrafish facility and is collaborating with several investigators at Rutgers, nationwide and globally to utilize our zebrafish stem cell reporters and Cre-Lox transgenics for cancer modeling and drug discovery strategies. With these approaches, we uncovered novel stem cell targets, and are developing small molecule inhibitors for targeting stem cell self-renewal for more effective regenerative and cancer therapies.
A parallel research effort in the Sabaawy laboratory is to study human adherent bone marrow-derived cells (ABMCs)-based therapy and transplantation in regenerative medicine. Cell therapy using stem cells for regeneration of a failing organ or injury repair is a promising approach. We are utilizing 3D organogenesis and animal models to study the mechanisms and dynamics of stem cell-mediated regeneration. These studies support ongoing collaborations in international clinical trials for utilizing ABMCs cell therapy for injury repair.