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Parekh Laboratory

Research Topics

  • Human hematopoiesis
  • Hematopoietic stem cells
  • Thymus
  • Hematopoietic progenitor cells

Research Overview

Our research focuses on T-cell leukemia, which is a type of blood cancer that affects children and adults. Twenty percent of children and 50% of adults afflicted by T-cell leukemia do not survive, and new treatments are urgently needed for these patients. Leukemias arise due to errors during normal blood cell development. Our goal is to identify these errors that lead to the development of T-cell leukemia. The ultimate goal is to identify errors in leukemic cells that can be targeted for the development of new anti-leukemic treatments.

Our research objectives are to define critical regulatory mechanisms underlying normal human thymopoiesis (T-cell development); apply findings from normal thymopoiesis studies to the elucidation of the pathogenesis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL); and  identify leukemogenic pathways that can be targeted for the development of novel anti-leukemic therapies.

Current Research Projects

  1. Role of the transcription factor BCL11B in normal human T-cell development and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia: The transcription factor BCL11B is mutated in 16% of human T ALL samples. Our goal is to delineate the role of BCL11B in normal human T cell development and leukemogenesis with the ultimate goal of gaining an insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of T-ALL.
  2. Role of long non-coding RNAs in T-cell leukemia: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are RNAs >200 nucleotides in length that are not translated into proteins. LncRNAs constitute gene regulatory mechanisms in normal development and oncogenesis. Our goal is to define the role of long non-coding RNAs in human T cell development and T-cell leukemogenesis.