Laura Hansen, PhD
Department of Medicine
Emory University School of Medicine
The Hansen Lab studies the interactions between satellite cells and the vasculature. Satellite cells are skeletal muscle progenitor cells that are known to play an important role in muscle repair after injury and adaptation to exercise. However, our lab focuses on a previously underexplored role of satellite cells in vascular growth. We have found that satellite cells, when activated, produce a number of chemoattractant growth factors that drive the migration of vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells which are important in the growth and development of blood vessels. This area is of particular interest in the context of peripheral artery disease (PAD), where patients suffer from ischemic tissue damage but treatment options are still limited. The lab has shown that ischemia stimulates satellite cells and is exploring ways to harness their angiogenic properties in vivo or through therapeutically delivered cells. Current work in the lab is determining the effects of satellite cell growth factor production using in vitro assays as well as determining what factors are critical to these vascular effects. One major project explores the biology of satellite cells in response to exercise. We are utilizing a mouse model in which we can selectively ablate satellite cells. Additionally, we are exploring the changes in expression and heterogeneity of satellite cells after exercise in both our murine models and human patient biopsies using single cell sequencing. Our newest project is to optimize satellite cell delivery and further develop therapeutic strategies through new biomaterials.
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