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Heidenreich/Vormoor Group

Bexultan Kazybay

Group: Heidenreich/Vormoor Group

About Bexultan 

I am a future scientist from Kazakhstan. During my master’s I did an internship on acute lymphoblastic leukemia at Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, UK. I also worked at the National Center for Biotechnology, Kazakhstan on mesenchymal stem cells. Having experience in both fields, I decided to start my PhD at the Princess Máxima Center in the Heidenreich/Vormoor lab to investigate how leukemic cells interact with stromal cells to survive in the bone marrow.

My Project: The osteochondral niche: how acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells reshape skeletal stem cell differentiation to create a supportive and protective niche?

Leukemic blasts communicate with neighboring cells to reprogram their microenvironment and survive chemotherapy. Hence, targeting the tumor-supportive microenvironment holds the potential of increasing therapy efficacy. To understand cell-cell communication dynamics we will use single cell RNA sequencing of leukemic cells and FACS sorted skeletal progenitor cells from diagnostic bone marrow samples. Cellular communication pathways will then be probed in our co-cultures of patient-derived ALL cells grown in direct contact with human iPSC-derived MSC. To further decipher the interplay of leukemic blasts and the osteochondral niche, we will develop a 3D co-culture system using miniature bone/cartilage particles. Spatial transcriptomics and confocal microscopy will be applied to investigate in a unique setting the mechanisms that govern leukogenesis in the osteochondral niche.