Jan H. Spaas
Global Stem cell Technology, Belgium
Jan H. Spaas, veterinarian, graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University (Belgium) in 2010. In that year he also won the price for young authors of the Flemish Veterinary Journal. He completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Comparative Physiology and Biometrics of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University. Since 2012, he became the laboratory director of Global Stem cell Technology, an organization that is specialized in regenerative therapies for horses. Thanks to external research funding, he is the industrial promotor of Ph.D. and master students who actively participate in the companys research program.
In recent years, different classes of stem cells have been investigated for their ability to regenerate organs and tissues after injury. Consequently, the isolation and characterization of stem cells from different adult tissues such as bone marrow, adipose tissue, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord (blood) have been investigated. However, ongoing regeneration of the skin is achieved through somatic stem cell differentiation within the epidermis and the hair follicle. The skin may, hence, serve as an excellent source of epithelial stem cells (EpSCs). Accordingly, it has been proposed that EpSCs might be useful in the treatment of several diseases, such as burn wounds, chronic wounds, and ulcers. Nevertheless, only limited information concerning EpSCs is available to date. Nonetheless, this stem cell type could prove itself useful in skin reconstitution after injury. After harvesting from equine skin, the purified cells were characterized as EpSCs by means of positive expression for CD29, CD44, CD49f, CD90, Casein Kinase 2b, p63, and Ki67, low expression for cytokeratin (CK)14 and negative expression for CD105, CK18, Wide CK, and Pan CK. Moreover, the isolated cells were differentiated toward keratinocytes and adipocytes. To assess the regenerative capacities of allogenic EpSCs, a double-blinded clinical study was performed. This revealed significant macroscopic as well as microscopic improvements in different wound-healing parameters in the EpSC treated group.