NYSCF in the News

NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Lisa Giocomo and a team at Stanford University published their recent work in Neuron investigating how navigation works in the brain. Grid cells, commonly known as the GPS of the brain, along with border, head direction, and speed cells comprise the four main types of cells in the navigation system in mammalian brains. The scientists found that the navigation system and the cells that comprise it are much more complex and multifaceted than previously assumed. Instead of distinct cell types, they found that many cells displayed characteristics of multiple cell types and even the flexibility to display traits of one type followed by the traits of another. 

This work upends the assumption that our navigational brain function can be mapped with a mathematical model. Much more research is needed to fully understand the navigation process, including a fundamental reassessment of the mechanisms in play. 

 

Read the paper in Neuron >>

Read the press release from Stanford News >>

The traditional cell replacement therapy model relies on manufacturing the relevant cell type in the lab and injecting or replacing these cells into the patient, curing or treating their disease. NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus and NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize recipient Dr. Marius Wernig and his team at Stanford University explored a new method of potential cell replacement therapy for Parkinson's disease in their latest Nature Biotechnology paper. The researchers explored directly converting astrocytes, a different type of brain cell, into the dopaminergic neurons lost in Parkinson's disease. Testing their theory in a dish using human cells, and in a mouse model directly, the scientists found that this approach is theoretically possible, including improvements seen in the mouse models. 
 
This type of research represents a potential breakthrough in cell replacement therapies, introducing a technique in which cell replacement may be achieved through gene therapy instead of whole cell replacement. 

 

Read the paper in Nature Biotechnology >>

NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus and NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize recipient Dr. Marius Wernig of Stanford University published exciting results showing that nerve cells actively repress transforming into alternate cell states. The research, published in Nature, describes how nerve cells use a powerful repressor protein - Myt1l - to actively maintain their identity, suppressing the expression of genes associated with non-neuronal cell types, including skin, heart, lung, cartilage and liver. 

This research is critically important for scientists trying to understand the minutia of the life cycle and function of nerves and neurons. Understanding these cells throughout their entire developmental cycle may lead to new treatments or cures for diseases caused by neuron death or dysfunction, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease among many others.

 

Read the paper in Nature >>

Read the press release on EurekAlert >>

NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus Dr. Paul Tesar of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine collaborated with NYSCF scientists Dr. Valentina Fossati and Dr. Panos Douvaras to explore the varied genetics behind Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease, a rare neurological disorder. Using stem cells, the scientists created models of the disease in a dish that displayed different genetic scenarios, identifying individual and shared defects that could inform treatment efforts.
 
This research, published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, could have a significant impact on clinical approaches to treating this deadly childhood disorder. 

 

Read the paper in The American Journal of Human Genetics >>

Read the press release on EurekAlert >>

President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget cuts $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 20% of its current budget. While these numbers represent a request to Congress and not a final agreement, the cuts are a dramatic statement against science as a priority for the administration and for our country.

These cuts, if implemented, may have a greater negative impact on the stem cell research field than the restrictions implemented by former President Bush. Ongoing NIH funding is critical to all biomedical research, including ours at The New York Stem Cell Foundation. Cutting these funds is a major risk for all research, and threatens to slow down or stop potentially lifesaving experiments while also put at risk the jobs of many scientists across the country.

The President has also proposed significant budget cuts to the NIH and other scientific agencies for the remainder of this year’s budget. These drastic measures would be a major step back for the advancement of science and medicine in the United States.

 

Read more from Nobel Laureate and founding NYSCF Medical Advisory Board Member Dr. Harold Varmus in the New York Times >>

Politico spoke with NYSCF CEO Susan L. Solomon about the proposed cuts, read the story here (firewalled) >>

In a collaborative tour de force, five female principal investigators, including NYSCF's own Dr. Valentina Fossati, are elucidating the role of energy metabolism in the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in work funded by the Department of Defense. The multidisciplinary team is collecting patient samples and data across a range of Multiple Sclerosis disease types over the course of two years. March is both MS awareness month and host to International Women’s Day. This unique grant and collaborative effort highlight the importance and impact of women in STEM and shed light on current efforts to find cures for multiple sclerosis. 
Patients enrolled in the project are clinically assessed by Dr. Ilana Katz, and further assessed by Dr. Matilde Inglese with brain magnetic resonance imaging, which will further enhance the classification of the patient to one of the three stages of MS disease progression. Skin biopsies are then collected and reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array, permitting Dr. Fossati and her team to generate patient specific neural cells, which will hopefully shed light on the mechanisms of disease progression.
The five Principal Investigators are:
 
  • Dr. Ilana Katz-Sand, an assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and a member of the MS Microbiome Consortium. Current research projects include studies on the mechanisms of neuronal degeneration in progressive MS, an investigation of the role of the gut microbiome in MS, as well as a clinical trial for neuromyelitis optica. In addition to her own projects, Dr. Katz Sand participates in MS clinical trials. She is also involved in education, teaching residents and medical students at Mount Sinai, and lectures on MS and NMO to other physicians and patients. 

 

  • Dr. Patrizia Casaccia, recently named the founding director of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center’s (ASRC) Neuroscience Initiative. Her research at the ASRC focuses on glial cell biology, the study of those cells most common the central nervous system. She maintains an affiliation with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she has previously served as professor with the Department of Neuroscience, Neurology and Department of Genomics and Multiscale Biology. She also directed the Center of Excellence for Myelin Repair within the Friedman Brain Institute.

 

  • Dr. Catarina Quinzii, an Assistant Professor at Columbia University Medical Center, with expertise in neurology, neuroscience and genetics, and also holds an appointment in the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine. Her research involves investigating the role of mitochondria dysfunction in disease progression.

 

  • Dr. Matilde Inglese, an Associate Professor of Neurology, Radiology and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her lab focuses on understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to disease onset and progression in patients with multiple sclerosis. She serves as a member of the National Institute of Health study sections, and is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology and the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

 

  • Dr. Valentina Fossati, an Investigator at the New York Stem Cell Foundation since 2011. She was a recipient of the NYSCF - Druckenmiller Fellowship in 2009. Her current research focuses on using induced pluripotent stem cell modeling for understanding neurodegeneration in MS. 

 

 

The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array was a central talking point in both an exclusive interview and digital panel with The Regenerative Medicine Network. NYSCF Senior Vice President of Research Dr. Scott Noggle spoke with RegMedNet about how he became interested in stem cell research, NYSCF's growth in the past eleven years including construction and launch of the NYSCF Array, and NYSCF’s ongoing efforts to continually improve stem cell production and derivation using cutting edge automation.

In addition to the interview with Dr. Noggle, NYSCF’s Dr. Daniel Paull, Vice President, Automation Systems & Stem Cell Biology, highlighted the importance of the NYSCF Array in a RegMedNet digital panel discussing induced pluripotent stem cell derivation and applications in research. The panel covered challenges in stem cell derrivation, future potential applications in regenerative medicine, and regulatory challenges. Fellow panelists included Lia Kent of Biological Industries USA, Dr. Yvonne Mica of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Dr. Fiona Watt of Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London.

 

Read the full RegMedNet interview with Dr. Scott Noggle >>

Learn more about the RegMedNet panel with Dr. Daniel Paull >>

Learn more about the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array >>

Adult cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells through a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer where the nucleus of the adult cell is transferred into an enucleated oocyte or egg cell. However, this process often causes the cell to stop dividing and growing. NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Dieter Egli and a team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center studied why this developmental arrest happens. Published in Nature Cell Biology, the scientists showed that cell-type-specific features of cell cycle progression are different enough from one another to prevent the transition from one cell type to another during reprogramming, independent of gene expression. 

It is not yet known which type of stem cell derivation will result in the best cells for use in research, drug toxicity testing, and future cell replacement therapies. Understanding the causes and affects of reprogramming techniques on DNA and genome expression is a critical step towards better research, and new treatments and therapies. 

 

Read the paper in Nature Cell Biology >>

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