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NYResearch Institute, Tufts to collaborate on stem cell based treatment for neurodegeneration

Scientific teams from both the research institutes will develop advanced stem cell models to improve understanding and treatment of Parkinson\'s, Alzheimer\'s, and similar diseases.

By Team ABLE

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute and the Tufts University Initiative for Neural Science, Disease & Engineering (INSciDE) has announced a collaborative initiative focused on deciphering the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases by employing a new generation of human stem-cell-based experimental technologies. 

Using patient-derived samples, the research team will engineer 3D models of the tissues adversely affected in neurodegenerative disease, including the brain, peripheral nervous system, immune system, and intestine. The goal of the initiative is to elucidate the molecular pathways and cellular and neural circuit defects that cause neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

\"Neurodegenerative diseases impact the lives of millions worldwide, and NYSCF is committed to improving the way these debilitating disorders are understood, diagnosed, and treated,\" says Susan L. Solomon, NYSCF CEO. \"We are very pleased to be collaborating with this world-class bioengineering team at Tufts to create an unprecedented model system for disease research and drug discovery.\"

INSciDE at Tufts is a new interdisciplinary center with a multi-scale focus on brain and peripheral nervous system structure, function, and disease. Combining NYSCF\'s extensive track record in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and organoid generation with Tufts\' capabilities in 3D tissue engineering, fundamental disease research, functional genomics, and systems biology, this collaboration is well positioned to tackle the diseases of the brain.

The team will initially focus on engineering 3D tissue laboratory models recapitulating key aspects of Alzheimer\'s and Parkinson\'s disease. First, the researchers will integrate the different cell types affected in each disease into advanced biocompatible scaffolds developed by the INSciDE team to mimic biological tissues. These technologies will then enable researchers to reconstruct the architecture, function, and diverse composition of diseased neural circuits, providing a glimpse into what factors may cause the circuits to malfunction.

In addition to studying the interactions and behavior of cells within neural circuits, the researchers will also examine influential factors outside the brain. 

NYSCF has recently acquired samples from a cohort of nearly 200 Parkinson\'s patients, from which they are generating iPSCs and brain cells such as the dopaminergic neurons that are lost in the disease. The Tufts researchers are now engineering gut-brain bioreactors and will soon begin creating models of the human intestine. The teams are eager to begin integrating these systems into technology that will enable a new level of understanding of neurodegeneration and fuel the next generation of therapeutic development.