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Chao Jiang

DPhil Student

Osteoporosis is an age-associated condition characterised by the progressive loss of bone mass, resulting in increased the risk of bone fracture. Osteoporosis is caused by the decline in the number and activity of bone forming progenitor cells (osteoblasts) with age, resulting in an imbalance between bone formation and bone resorption. Current treatments can inhibit further bone erosion, but the repair of existing bone lesions rarely occurs. Therefore, replenishment of osteoblasts remains a challenge within this field. Osteoblasts are derived by osteogenic differentiation from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which lose their proliferative and osteogenic potential with age. Epigenetic changes were shown to play an important role for the loss of MSC function with age, thus reversing the epigenetic “memory” of aged MSCs could lead to therapeutic options to replenish osteoblast number, and restore bone mass in patients.

Our research aim to identify epigenetic regulators that can re-activate the regenerative ability of MSCs in elderly patients and understand the underpinning epigenetic process that leads to the control of MSC function during ageing and diseases.

The identification of epigenetic regulators of MSC function could lead to novel therapy to regenerate bone cells in patients. In addition, the understanding of the molecular process that results in stem cell ageing will have important implications in our understanding of human longevity and innovations in regenerative medicine.

Main themes of research

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Chao obtained his BSc in Biochemistry from University College London, graduating with first class honours. He then completed his MSc in Cell and Gene Therapy with distinction. Joining NDORMS at the University of Oxford, Chao is currently working towards a doctorate in the area of epigenetics and mesenchymal stem cell ageing.

Studentship and funding:

Johnny Hon scholarship, China Oxford Scholarship Fund (2015)

UCB Celltech (2016)

Industrial Fellowship, Royal Commission 1851 (2017)