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Melero-Martin Lab - Research

Endothelial Colony-Forming Cells (ECFCs)

ECFCs are progenitors of endothelial cells that circulate in peripheral blood. ECFCs have enormous potential in Regenerative Medicine because they can generate large amounts of autologous ECs for vascular therapies. We specialize in the biology of human ECFCs derived from umbilical cord blood and adult peripheral blood. We are currently studying several aspects of ECFCs:

  • Phenotypical and functional properties of ECFCs
  • Methods for ECFC isolation
  • ECFC levels in health and disease
  • Therapeutic potential of ECFCs

Key publications


Human endothelial colony-forming cells serve as trophic mediators for mesenchymal stem cell engraftment via paracrine signaling. Lin RZ, Moreno-Luna R, Li D, Jaminet SCS, Greene AK, Melero-Martin JM.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2014; 111(28):10137-10142. PDF

In vivo vasculogenic potential of human blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells. Melero-Martin JM, Khan ZA, Picard A, Wu X, Paruchuri S, Bischoff J. Blood 2007; 109:4761-4768. PDF


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Bioengineering Vascular Networks 

Vascular networks are central to the functioning of most tissue. We use a two-cell approach to bioengineer human vascular networks in vivo. In our model, human blood-derived ECFCs are combined with human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) in a biocompatible hydrogel and injected subcutaneously into immunodeficient mice where they form an organized vascular network that joins with the mouse vasculature. This model is ideally suited for studies on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of human vascular network formation and for developing strategies to vascularize tissues. VIDEO

Key publications


Transdermal regulation of vascular network bioengineering using a photopolymerizable methacrylated gelatin hydrogel. Lin RZ, Chen YC, Moreno-Luna R, Khademhosseini A, Melero-Martin JM.  Biomaterials 2013; 34(28):6785-96. PDF

Engineering robust and functional vascular networks in vivo with human adult and cord blood-derived progenitor cells. Melero-Martin JM, De Obaldia ME, Kang S-Y, Khan ZA, Yuan L, Oettgen P, Bischoff J. Circ Res 2008; 103:194-202. PDF


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Genetically-Engineered Vasculature for Protein Drug Delivery

The ability to bioengineer vasculature creates the possibility to introduce additional instructions into tissues by genetically modifying the endothelial cells that will actually build these blood vessels. We are developing models that use genetically-engineered ECFCs to achieve controlled administration of therapeutic proteins in vivo.

Key publications

Induction of erythropoiesis using human vascular networks genetically-engineered for controlled erythropoietin release. Lin RZ, Dreyzin A, Aamodt K, Li D, Jaminet SCS, Dudley AC, Melero-Martin JM.  Blood 2011; 118(20):5420-8. PDF

Adventures in gene therapy: Getting your own blood vessels to make drugs

June 18, 2014.  Juan Melero-Martin, VECTOR blog


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