UF researcher to study strategies to restore and rejuvenate blood cells

With a $2.6 million four-year grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a University of Florida Health Cancer Center researcher will study strategies to restore the function of aging blood vessels and stem cells, with the long-term goal of improving treatments for diseases such as blood cancers. 

Jason Butler, Ph.D.

Jason Butler, Ph.D., vice chief of research and a professor in the division of hematology and oncology in the UF College of Medicine, will lead the project, which aims to assess how infusion of a protein known as Netrin-1 (NTN1) may enhance, preserve and rejuvenate aging blood cells. The study builds on Butler’s recent finding that NTN1 restores the regenerative capacity of hematopoietic stem cells. 

As people age, they are at higher risk that treatments for diseases affecting the blood system will fail or cause other complications. These treatments, including chemotherapy or stem cell transplants, suppress the body’s production of blood cells. 

Butler’s study will use innovative animal models and imaging techniques to determine whether enhancing NTN1 signaling can alleviate aging-related blood cell decline. 

Ultimately, the project could pave the way for developing therapeutic strategies to reverse age-related deficiencies in the body’s blood cells and improve treatments for a range of age-related blood cell disorders. 

Butler is collaborating on the new project with Daniel Lucas, Ph.D., an associate professor at Cincinnati Children’s. 

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