Cellular Therapy Opens up New Perspectives

Professor Alp Can from Ankara University speaks about his research

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Professor Alp Can is the director of the Department of Histology and Embryology at Ankara University School of Medicine, and also responsible for the microscopic multi-imaging facility, which hosts many ZEISS microscopes at many levels.

Prof. Can’s main research topic is to investigate the cellular properties of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells with regard to using them in cellular therapies.

Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells after they were induced for adipogenic transdifferentiation in vitro for 35 days
Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells after they were induced for adipogenic transdifferentiation in vitro for 35 days. Green signal refers to F-actin filaments, red signal lipid droplets and blue signal for DNA. Image courtesy of Alp Can, Ankara University, Turkey.

Three questions to Prof. Alp Can

 

What are the big issues in your research area?

Cellular therapy is a relatively new issue, but seems very promising as different types of cells are under extensive focus in many animal experiments and clinical trials. As they are tested in various organisms and tissue compartment their novel properties are recognized and give credence to new therapy regimens.

Prof. Alp Can in front of a ZEISS microscope.
Prof. Alp Can from Ankara University investigates the cellular properties of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells with a ZEISS microscope.

What do you think are your most significant research accomplishments?

Cellular development processes starting from the very early stages of zygote formation up to the differentiation of cell clusters into specific tissues are very thrilling and exciting topics as they still hide many unanswered questions. Recently, induced pluripotent stem cell technology opened insights to the novel gene control and regulatory mechanisms, which may solve some common health problems that has never been tested before. In that sense, high-end microscopy is still one of the most import research and diagnostic tool, as preclinical researchers and physicians can see the in vivo live and diseased tissues/cells in front of their very eyes.

Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells in culture
Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells in culture. Cells were labeled with anti-vimentin (yellow) and Hoechst 33342 (magenta). Image courtesy of Alp Can, Ankara University, Turkey.

If you had unlimited resources, what would you do with them?

My team is working on the cellular and subcellular features of human fetal cells which give promises to be used in the regenerative medicine. I think the era we live in is the “era of regeneration and rejuvenation” as human beings are getting older while they want to pursue maintaining their health status till the end of their last day. So, my ultimate effort in the lab would be to find out evidence-based and reproducible remedies to human aging, which in fact starts at birth!

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