Molecular and Cell Biology
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Program
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
Thomas Darling, MD, Ph.D.
Our laboratory investigates the processes of hamartoma formation and skin regeneration. On the one hand, our studies of skin hamartomas in patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) are directed at finding new treatments for patients. We explore cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions that contribute to tumor formation in the hope of identifying new molecular targets for treatment. We showed that mTOR signaling is activated in TSC skin tumors and we are studying rapamycin and other drugs for the treatment of TSC. On the other hand, we are elucidating how the signaling pathways altered in TSC tumors promote hair follicle neogenesis. We observed that fibroblast-like cells from TSC skin hamartomas induce human hair follicles in grafted skin equivalents. Recently, we presented the first successful generation of human hair follicles in bioengineered dermal-epidermal composites using normal adult cells. Our future studies will continue to explore novel approaches for treating TSC as well as the signaling pathways that promote skin regeneration over repair.