Encouraged by the very positive feedback from our ADEK 2018 submission and our recent publication in Nature34, we present here our updated proposal on the epitranscriptome of skin stem cells.
Harnessing adult stem cells for regenerative medicine (RM) is a global initiative that holds great promise in saving daily lives. This field is evermore needed in the Gulf Region, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), due to high road-related injuries. According to the World Health Organization, road accidents in the UAE are the number one cause of death in children and the second in adults. Among the many health adverse-effects of road collisions, skin injuries are by far the most prevalent. Skin is a very regenerative organ as it is composed of many stem cell (SC) populations residing at different niches with diverse capacity of regeneration. However, when extensively damaged the inherent process of regeneration is hampered. One method to externally support skin regeneration after severe damage is by epidermal SC transplants.
Utilizing epidermal SCs for regeneration requires full understanding of their biology during self-renewal and differentiation. Self-renewal is a process whereby SCs maintain their pool by dividing and inhibiting differentiation. Differentiation is, however, when SCs divide to give rise to a specialized cell. By comprehending these states, we would be able to overcome the current limitations of growing epidermal SCs in culture. Previous attempts to successfully propagate epidermal SCs required unknown factors derived from bovine serum and mouse feeder cells. Recently, efforts to use chemically defined serum-free conditions to culture epidermal SCs have been successful, albeit not without problems. Indeed, when tested chemically, cultured epidermal SCs fail to form skin. Here, we propose to overcome the limitation of epidermal SCs grown in chemically defined conditions by using our recent discovered RNA pathway controlling epidermal SC differentiation. Enhancing skin SC research would position Abu Dhabi in the forefront of skin healthcare; hence, achieving its strategic goal in becoming a knowledge-based economy.