Étudiante-chercheuse étoile April 2015

Iman Fares

PhD student in Molecular Biology
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Université de Montréal

Award-winning publication: Pyrimidoindole derivatives are agonist of human hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal

Published in: Science


We identified a molecule known as UM171 that will make it possible to significantly increase the number of cord blood stem cells to treat patients suffering from blood disorders. Cord blood stem cells are often transplanted into patients with blood disorders such as leukemias and lymphomas as a last resort and especially in non-Caucasian people with limited access to a transplant due to donor shortages. Unfortunately, because of the limited number of stem cells in cord blood, the success rate of cord blood transplants in adults remains low. The discovery of the UM171 molecule combined with bioreactor technology is a global breakthrough that will provide thousands of patients around the world with access to safer stem cell transplants. This development could increase the number of units of cord blood available for transplant into adults by tenfold and considerably reduce complications."

Though rare, blood stem cells are essential to the generation of the components of blood—a tissue that constantly renews itself. Pinpointing the UM171 molecule, which fosters the expansion of cells in culture, will make it possible to purify the number of cells required to study function and deregulation during cancer mutations. This major finding will therefore elucidate stem cell self-renewal mechanisms and help determine new modulators involved in the process, eventually leading to better cell expansion strategies and the identification of therapeutic targets against leukemia cells.