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Martin Bornhäuser Group

Biology of adult stem cells: clinical relevance for leukemia and stem cell transplantation

Portrait Martin Bornhäuser

Isolation and characterization of mesenchymal adult bone marrow stem cells (MSC) and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from healthy donors and patients with leukemia. Characterization of functional potency and description of stem cell niches. Interaction of stem cells with extracellular matrix and artificial scaffolds.

Mesenchymal adult bone marrow stem cells (MSC)

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have been identified in the bone marrow (BM) as multipotent non-hematopoietic progenitor cells that differentiate into osteoblasts, adipocytes, chondrocytes, tenocytes, skeletal myocytes, and cells of visceral mesoderm1-3. MSC do not express hematopoietic markers, but a specific pattern of molecules, such as SH2 (CD105), SH3, SH4 (CD73) and STRO-1. MSC interact with hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), influencing their homing and differentiation through cell-cell contact and the production of factors and chemokines. We have specifically studied the potential of endothelial differentiation of MSC and the impact of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (Imatinib mesylate) on this type of stem cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC)

Hematopoietic stem cells express the markers CD34 and CD133 and can repopulate a myeloablated recipient after allogeneic or autologous transplantation. Besides their clinical use, we are interested in the biology of hematapoietic stem cells in-vitro and in-vivo. Hematopoietic stem cells from various sources (bone marrow, cord blood and peripheral blood) are isolated and characterized by phenotyping and gene expression studies. One major effort is to expand stem cells ex-vivo using various culture conditions.

A major focus is the characterization of homing of hematopoietic stem cells to specific niches from which they can be mobilized or start differentiating. For this purposes animal models and specific coculture systems have been developed.

Future Projects and Goals

  • Use engineered MSC to generate stem cell niches in-vitro
  • Study the role of osteogenic differentiation of MSC for the support of HSC
  • Generate artifical stem cell niches using material science


Since 2016
Director National Centre for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Dresden

Since 2015
Transcampus Professor, King’s College, London, UK

Since 2014
Managing Director Tumor Center Dresden

Since 2011
W3 Professor for Hematology/Oncology, Co-head of Department of Medicine I, University Hospital, Dresden

W3 Professor for Translational Biomedical Research, Center for Regenerative Therapies, Dresden

C3 Professor of Medicine and head of Stem Cell Transplantation, University Hospital, Dresden

Consultant, University Hospital, Dresden, Germany

Stem Cell Laboratory, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany

Studies of Medicine, University of Kiel (MD)

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Selected Publications

Beyer-Westendorf J, …, Bornhäuser M
Safety of direct oral anticoagulant exposure during pregnancy: a retrospective cohort study.
Lancet Haematol. 7(12):e884–e891 (2020)

Röllig C, …, Bornhäuser M
Does time from diagnosis to treatment affect the prognosis of patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia?
Blood 136(7):823–830 (2020)

Schetelig J, …, Bornhäuser M
External validation of models for KIR2DS1/KIR3DL1-informed selection of hematopoietic cell donors fails.
Blood 135(16):1386–1395 (2020)

Fassslrinner F, Schetelig J, Burchert A, Stelljes M, Bornhäuser M
Long-term efficacy of reduced-intensity versus myeloablative conditioning before allogeneic haemopoietic cell transplantation in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia in first complete remission: retrospective follow-up of an open-label, randomised phase 3 trial.
Lancet Haematol 5(4):e161–e169 (2018)

Röllig C, Knop S, Bornhäuser M
Multiple Myeloma
Lancet 385(9983):2197–208 (2015)


University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus
Technische Universität Dresden
Fetscherstraße 74
01307 Dresden