NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Kay Tye, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provided a mechanistic explanation characterizing how neurons in the amygdala - the part of the brain responsible for memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions - differentiate between positive and negative associations.
The ability for an organism to differentiate between negative and positive situations or outcomes is critical for survival. In addition, defects or errors in this process may underlie many psychiatric diseases. This research was published in Nature.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Paul Tesar, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and a team of scientists discovered that two drugs, one used to treat athletes foot and the other used to treat eczema, stimulated stem cells to replace the brain cells lost in multiple sclerosis.
This research, published in Nature and conducted using both mice and human brain cells, could lead to the first treatments capable of stopping and actually reversing the damage seen in multiple sclerosis and other neurologic conditions.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Valentina Greco and NYSCF - Druckenmiller Fellow Dr. Panteleimon Rompolas and their team from Yale University discovered clues to how stem cells regenerate and die while studying mouse hair folicles. The researchers found that the area around the stem cells, called the stem cell niche, plays a critical role in whether the stem cells live or die.
These findings, published in Nature, could lead to a better understanding of how stem cells are maintained throughout the body.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Feng Zhang, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, created a smaller molecule for specific genome editing. A commonly used and very efficient genome editing technology called SpCas9 is of limited utility due to its large size. Dr. Zhang and his team created six similar - but much smaller - genome editing molecues, termed SaCas9, that have similar efficiency as SpCas9.
Accurate and specific genome editing technology is an extremely promising area of research and potential source of therapeutic cures for genetic diseases. This research, published in Nature, moves the entire field closer to realizing the potential of these technologies.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator and 2014 NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Prize Winner Dr. Marius Wernig, Stanford University School of Medicine, discovered key cell surface markers that act as regulators during the early stages of the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell reprogramming process.
This research, published in Nature, is part of the larger effort to completely understand the intricate and minute, step-by-step process of iPS cell reprogramming. This understanding is necessary before iPS cell replacement therapies can be successfully pursued for many different diseases.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Alex Meissner, Harvard Universtiy, publsihed his latest work studying DNA methylation patterns in Nature Genetics. Dr. Meissner and his team used a gene editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to investigate the roles and targets of three DNA methylation molecules in embryonic stem cells, finding that some of the results contrasted directly with mouse models of the same experiment.
DNA methylation regulates gene expression, making it an extremely important area of research for understanding cell and disease development.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Feng Zhang, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, used a gene editing technology called CRISPR/Cas-9 mediated loss-of-function screen to conduct a full-body, genome-wide analysis of tumor growth and metastasis in mice.
Published in Cell, this screening technique sets the stage for potential future use in identifying genetic evolution of different types of cancer in vivo.