The Jacob Hanna Lab is at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Working as a component of the institute’s Department of Molecular Genetics, the lab has affiliations with Chromatin and RNA Gene Regulation I-Core (Israeli Center of Research Excellence) and Azrieli Institute for Systems Biology. The lab is made up of scientists with multi-disciplinary backgrounds. Their main thrust is to gain a better understanding of embryonic stem cell structures and functions, along with early and advanced development of human disease modeling.
Focus on Pluripotent Stem Cell Studies and Epigenetic Reprogramming
The research being done at Jacob Hanna Lab zeroes in on investigating cellular reprogramming processes which involve generating induced pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells. Reprogramming requires eliminating and remodeling epigenetic marks like DNA methylation. By using exogenous small molecules or transcription factors, epigenetic reprogramming can be artificially induced. This will create induced pluripotent stem cells that can be used for biomedical and stem cell therapy research, without the need of embryos.
Pluripotent cells are important because they are master cells. Basically, these cells can make any cell or tissue that the body needs to fix itself. Since pluripotent cells can, under the right parameters, differentiate into any type of cell, they are also described as true stem cells. However, after the embryonic development phase, this characteristic of pluripotency is lost. Using a wide variety of biological experimentation techniques including advanced microscopy and genomic analyses, the Jacob Hanna Lab explores how the mastery or pluripotency of cells can be maintained and reconfigured all throughout early embryonic development.