The Krumlauf Lab investigates the regulatory information and mechanisms that control the basic vertebrate body plan in development, disease, and evolution.
The lab focuses on head development and Hox genes—a family of genes that control the layout of a developing embryo from head to tail. The field offers insight into not only how bodies are shaped and formed, but also how species evolved new features. Fundamental discoveries in research organisms hold promise for understanding human health and disease.
The discovery that Hox genes, which control body plan formation, are essentially the same in mice and fruit flies (Drosophila) helped establish the idea that there are conserved genetic mechanisms. Comparative studies in mouse, chick, zebrafish, and sea lamprey continue to provide critical information on how different species form diverse structures.
Pioneering research from the Krumlauf Lab in the early 2000s also helped lay the groundwork for a new approach to treating osteoporosis — an often-debilitating disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The researchers uncovered a mechanism that controls bone growth, which arose out of their basic research into Hox genes. The drug, known as romosozumab, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2019, and is the first drug for osteoporosis that promotes bone growth.
The Krumlauf Lab continues to study the molecular and cellular pathways that govern the patterning of the nervous system, body plan, and craniofacial development of vertebrate embryos, particularly how these processes are altered or affected in human diseases.