Characterizing Leukemic Stem Cells

In a leukemic cell population, there are leukemic blasts and leukemic stem cells (LSCs). While the leukemic blasts make up the majority of the leukemic population, only the rare LSCs maintain the leukemia. This project aims to identify the antigens on the leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in a HOXB4-transgene dependent leukemia model. What is the relevance of HOXB4, and how is a leukemia model dependent on its expression? HOXB4 is a gene that plays a role in endowing hemopoietic precursor cells with an enhanced self-renewing capacity, which could eventually immortalize those cells in which HOXB4 transgene is expressed. When these immortalized precursor cells continue to self-renew (i.e. clone themselves), gene mutations could lead to leukemia. This is why we call this a HOXB4 transgene-dependent leukemia model: because when the transgene is removed, the leukemia regresses.

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Salma Ragheb

Undergraduate Researcher, University of Toronto

I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto double majoring in Immunology and Visual Arts.

As for my job, I am currently a research student and lab assistant at the SickKids Research Institute (Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning) in the David Kaplan Freda Miller Cancer & Stem Cell Lab in the Department of Neurosciences & Mental Health. I also sell prints of my art upon request. 

For my Laidlaw research project, I joined the Iscove lab in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to characterize the cell surface antigens on leukemic stem cells in a HOXB4-transgene-dependent leukemia model maintained in mice. 

In the future, I am interested in working on research projects that combine neurobiology and immunology.