The research efforts in the Sabaawy laboratory is focused on studying normal stem cell development and cancer stem cells utilizing patient-derived cells, genome sequencing, tumor initiation models, 3D stem cell derived organoid cultures and humanized mouse models and xenografts for drug discovery. These studies aim to dissect normal stem cell developmental pathways, and how cancer stem cells divert from these regulatory pathways. One major pathway for research focus in the laboratory is the regulation of stem cell self-renewal by the polycomb gene BMI1 and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors p15 (CDKN2b) and p16 (CDKN2a) regulating the cell cycle and senescence. Utilizing novel organoid cultures, CRISPR- and recombinase-mediated genome editing and drug modifiers together with transgenic and xenograft approaches; the laboratory is generating models for precision therapy of several cancers such as prostate cancer, glioblastomas and leukemias.
A parallel research effort in the laboratory is to study human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based therapy and transplantation in regenerative medicine. Cell therapy using stem cells for regeneration of a failing organ or injury repair is a promising approach. Dr. Sabaawy and his colleagues are collaborating on international trials for utilizing MSCs cell therapy for injury repair.