The Currie Group is researching the molecular mechanism that act to pattern the vertebrate embryo and to discover how different muscle cell types have evolved. They are particularly interested in how specific muscle cell types are determined within the developing embryo, how they grow and how they regenerate after injury.
For their research, the group use the Zebrafish as they model organism. Zebrafish are advantageous as study animals because their embryos are transparent. This allows scientists to observe the development of the internal structures from outside the living embryo.
What the Currie Group aim to understand is how early embryonic cells become individual muscle cells later in development. To do this, they look at two types of muscle groups – the axial muscles, which form around the head and truck and the appendicular muscles (those that form the muscles of the fins).
Another component of their research looks at the stem cell ‘buddy stem’. In collaboration with researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, The Currie Group were the first to identify what triggers haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) production. HSCs, which are found in the bone marrow and the umbilical cord, are important for replenishing the body’s supple of blood cells. What the group discovered is that the HSCs were formed with help from another type of cell – endotome cells.
This discovery has brought us closer to a cure for blood disorders. The Currie Group is continually their research in the mechanics of stem cell generation to help find a cure for a range of blood disorders and immune diseases.