At Thrivus Institute, we are committed to providing an excellent environment for training innovative biomedical scientists. Our professors and principal investigators have diverse backgrounds from academia, medicine, industry and the law with the objective of providing an encompassing milieu to train specialist scientists in biomedicine.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic mutation that affects the ability of hemoglobin in red blood cells to carry oxygen. SCD afflicts millions of people globally and is particularly common among people originating from sub-Saharan Africa where, it is estimated, that up to 10% of the population carry the mutated gene. SCD is also prevalent in the Caribbean and Central America as well as Saudi Arabia and India.
The Sickle Cell Unit at Thrivus conducts innovate molecular research into Sickle Cell Disease with the view to developing diagnostics, treatments and cure for the disease. There is wide ranging collaboration between the Sickle Cell Unit and the Molecular Embryology and Bioactive Compounds Units.
Stem Cell & Genetic Disease
Stem cells underpin normal development and health from conception through adulthood. Embryonic stem cells produce the progenitors and patterns that determine how our organs and tissues are formed and arranged in the body.
Stem cells are longer living than ordinary cells. Consequently, stem cells may accumulate genetic mutations that lead to disease including various forms of cancer. Understanding mechanisms of mutation accumulation in stem cells, and dysregulation of stem cells, can lead to new and innovative modalities of diagnosing and treating disease.
We also envision use of stem cells to treat non-cancerous genetic diseases and explore same at Thrivus Institute
Research in this area focuses on the molecular, genetic and cellular mechanisms governing cell behavior and pattern formation during development. We use combinations of molecular biology, tissue culture, and bioinformatics to investigate gene regulation and biological pathways of immediate post-fertilization development through implantation. We use these investigations to also address subfertility and other diseases
The microbiota is the collection of bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses that live in or on a host organism impacts host health and disease. Microbiota is impacted by biologics and diet and in turn affects host immunity and possible gene expression. We are interested in competition and control within and across microbiota as they relate to biologics, diet and the environment
Chemicals such as lycopene, resveratrol and quercetin that are found in small amounts in plants and certain foods work via different mechanisms in the body to promote good health. Researchers at Thrivus are investigating how such bioactive compounds may be arrayed against reproductive dysfunction and, for disease prevention and/or cures.
Genome Editing & Gene Therapy
Gene Therapy involves the introduction of a healthy version of a gene to correct a deleterious genetic mutation. Thus, in the case of Sickle Cell Disease, a non-mutated form of hemoglobin B gene may be introduced into a cell containing the mutant hemoglobin B gene to provide the missing wild-type hemoglobin B function.
Genome editing supersedes traditional gene therapy in that in genome editing a mutated gene, or any genetic sequence, can be revised, removed or replaced essentially precisely at the DNA level to achieve therapeutic or other effect. The CRISPR/Cas9 system has ushered in transformative advances in genome editing and investigators at Thrivus are utilizing the technology for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.