Liver regeneration/disease, epigenetics, aging
One hallmark of aging is the accumulation of senescent cells; this parallels the regenerative decline and the rise in cancer incidences. The reduction in the regenerative capacity is linked to epigenetic changes in the genome. Chronic liver damage together with an attenuated regenerative response can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure or cancer. So far the only curative treatment for liver failure is organ transplantation. Unfortunately the amount of donor organs is limited and does not meet the demand.
We are working in the field of regenerative biology with the focus on understanding the process of liver regeneration. We are especially interested in identifying and understanding epigenetic and age dependent changes, resulting in regenerative decline and liver disease. Using our recently developed new system for performing in vivo RNAi screens in mice, in combination with state-of-the-art omics technology we want to identify new therapeutic targets to improve endogenous liver regeneration and/or attenuate the age dependent decline in the regenerative capacity. The ultimate goal is to translate this knowledge into new therapies to suppress liver failure and allow healthy aging in humans.