There is widespread interest in the use of stem cells for cell replacement therapies in human neurological disease and stroke; however, we have only begun to appreciate the cell and molecular biology of these cells that hold great promise for transplantation or other therapeutics relying on the use of different stem/progenitor cell populations or biogenic factors associated with their growth for many repair or cancer treatment approaches.
Five concurrently run projects aim to advance our understanding and use of neural stem cell therapies:
- The development and refinement of new in vitro methodologies to selectively expand particular embryonic and adult, including iPSC, stem or progenitor cell populations, and also control their differentiation into particular types of neurons and glia;
- The discovery of genes and factors involved in stem/progenitor cell growth and differentiation as a model for reactive neurogenesis, by way of creating cell and molecular libraries from normal and neurological disease brain tissues;
- Use of animal models and in vitro bridge bioassays of neurodegenerative disease (e.g. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s) and Dystonia by a dedicated cell culture and transplant group in the lab that is refining methods of integrating grafted stem/progenitor cells into at-risk brain circuitries;
- Stem cell plasticity and homing in a variety of tissues; and
- Studying distinct stem/progenitor cell populations as a potential source of primary tumors, and understanding their molecular biographies in order to devise new chemotherapeutic and immunological approaches for their control.