Hans Schöler and his team investigate how cellular pluripotency develops and what the mechanisms are that drive this process. They have shown that Oct4 plays a key role in maintaining pluripotency. Oct4 expression is silenced in all mature cells of the human body. Oct4 must be activated for mature cells to transform into pluripotent cells.
Schöler’s lab works to decipher the processes involved in controlling pluripotency and differentiation. The investigations from his lab open up a realm of possibilities:
- The ability to turn skin cells into induced stem cells (iPSCs) allows almost unlimited numbers of patient-derived neuronal cells to be generated for disease modelling and drug screening.
- The direct conversion of local somatic cell types into relevant precursors in vivo replenishes somatic cell pools for tissue renewal and offers the potential to regenerate injured or aged tissues.
- The use of iPSC-derived 3D culture models (organoids) that recapitulate human neurodevelopment in vivo helps to fill the gap in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases between humans and model organisms to establish new therapeutic approaches.