Spotlighting Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month, NYSCF Investigator Dr. Aiqun Li shares the latest in NYSCF’s Parkinson’s research, why he started his career in science, and the promise stem cells hold for Parkinson’s patients around the world.
Q: What research are you currently conducting in Parkinson’s disease?
A: At the NYSCF research institute, I am currently using patient-specific stem cells to...
NYSCF sat down with Principal Investigator Dr. Danny Freytes, to talk about his path to bioengineering and stem cell research, and his recent paper in Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, which paves the path toward making cellular patches for damaged hearts.
Tell us about your background and how you started in research.
I started out as a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Purdue University. Back then there was no biomedical engineering program...
For the first time, a team of scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, including NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow alumnus Sarah Huang, MD, PhD, MPH, has successfully transformed human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into functional human lung cells. This advance in stem cell science, supported by the NYSCF – Druckenmiller fellowship, has significant potential for modeling lung diseases, screening new drug candidates, studying human lung development, and, ultimately, for generating new lung tissue for transplantation.
Counter to the prevailing theory that beta cells die-off in Type 2 diabetes patients, NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow and postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center Chutima Talchai, PhD, is co-author on a paper in Cell that suggests these insulin-producing cells de-differentiate. Employing cellular lineage tracking, Dr. Talchai and her colleagues followed beta cells in Type 2 diabetic mice models. They discovered that these cells reverted to an immature state, rendered unable to produce insulin. These results could inform how diabetes is treated by identifying an agent to help re-differentiate these affected cells.
Dieter Egli, PhD, a NYSCF Senior Research Fellow, is co-author on a paper published in the August 19th edition of Nature Genetics, a study conducted in collaboration with the research group of Alex Meissner, PhD, of Harvard University. They studied how the mouse egg erases methylation marks on DNA that are specific to specialized adult cells yet differ in comparison to embryonic stem cells. These methylation marks are thought to be a major barrier in the reprogramming of a specialized cell to a stem cell. Within twelve days after nuclear transfer, they found that regulatory regions of genes were demethylated while repetitive DNA sequences remained methylated. This finding suggests that the egg contains factors that mediate the rapid and specific demethylation of genes, which may be important for development. Thereby, this work elucidates the potential of oocytes to reprogram specialized cells into stem cells.