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Dr Andy Watts

Research Interests

Supervisor: Professor Doug Fearon

Defining the origin and fate of Fibroblast Activation Protein (FAP) expressing cells in health and disease

Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is a cell surface glycoprotein, which marks a subset of stroma cells in all human adenocarcinomas. We have shown that ablation of the FAP expressing cells from stroma results in immune dependent acute hypoxic necrosis of the tumour.

We have also found FAP expressing cells in some normal tissues such as skeletal muscle and the bone marrow where they have essential roles in maintaining muscle mass and haematopoesis. Furthermore FAP+ cells are present in the developing embryo, in healing wounds and at sites of inflammation. These observations raise the possibility that FAP+ cells may form a lineage, with a fundamental role in regulating inflammation and tissue regeneration and maintenance.

The aim of my project is to determine whether the expression of FAP marks a cellular lineage and therefore the cells at these different sites are developmentally linked. I will use a genetic fate mapping approach where FAP+ cells will be irreversibly marked in vivo at various stages of development and their fate then determined. Gaining a better understanding of these cells will have implications for modulating inflammation and tissue regeneration or repair.

Keywords

development ; inflammation ; mesoderm ; genetic fate mapping

Topics

  • cancer