The ability to reprogram somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells - iPSCs) has transformed both the study of basic human cellular neurobiology and the examination of the cellular basis of human diseases of the nervous system. This technology makes it possible to study the development and cell biology of human neural stem cells, numerous human neuronal phenotypes, and human astrocytes and oligodendroglia. Further, somatic cells from patients with a variety of neurological diseases can be reprogrammed to allow study of neurons and glia with the genotypes of the afflicted individuals. There is no doubt that insights gained from such studies will translate into better treatments and eventually cures for neurological diseases. The strategic goal of this proposal is to put this critical technology into the hands of a highly productive group of neuroscientists at NU that currently receive nearly $6 million (direct costs) in funding from NINDS. Specifically the Center will: 1. Provide the facilities and expertise to enable NINDS investigators to culture and differentiate human iPSCs and to enable them to take advantage of cell repositories at the Coriell Institute and elsewhere. New iPSC lines will be created as needed for programs of NINDS investigators, and these lines will be deposited in the NINDS human cell line repository at the Coriell Institute 2. Provide the facilities and expertise to define the phenotype of differentiated iPSCs including morphology, electrical and other properties of iPSC-derived neurons and glia. 3. Enable NINDS investigators to utilize in their research programs new nanotechnology advances developed at NU for the creation and analysis of iPSCs. The attainment of these goals will not only have a transforming impact on the NINDS-funded research programs at NU and leverage the NINDS investment, but will also significantly accelerate the delivery of these technologies to the broader neuroscience community, quicken the pace of scientific discovery and promote the development of new treatments for neurological disorders.
It is now possible to take skin or other cells from patients with neurological disorders and change them into stem cells. In turn these cells can be differentiated into neurons, the electrically excitable cells in the brain, and other brain cell types. Cells from patients afflicted with disease can then be compared with those from normal individuals to gain understanding of the causes of the disease and to help develop new treatments.