Stem Cell-based Disease Modeling and Regenerative Therapies

Our research aims to elucidate the potential of stem cells, especially induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), for the use in regenerative medicine and for modeling human diseases.

iPSCs are generated by reprogramming somatic cells to an embryonic stem cell-like state via ectopic expression of a distinct transcription factor cocktail. Due to their pluripotent nature, iPSCs can be differentiated into many cell types. The use of iPSCs offers huge possibilities for regenerative therapies as well as in vitro disease modeling in human cells. 

Currently, we are investigating sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (SAD), which is the most common age-related dementia. Using either SAD patient-derived iPSCs or isogenic cells that differ only in their SAD risk genes, we analyze disease-relevant pathomechanisms in differentiated cortical neurons and astrocytes.

In another project, we focus on improving cell-based, regenerative therapies for stroke. Find more details here.
 

Methods:

induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), neural progenitor cells (NPCs), human induced neurons, human astrocytes, 2D and 3D cell culture, viral transduction, protein biochemistry, molecular and cell biological techniques, confocal imaging
 

Human EGFP expressing iN cells in culture
Human EGFP expressing iN cells in culture
Differentiation of human iPSCs to induced neurons (iN cells) and astrocytes

A: Representative images of human iPS cell colonies. IPSCs show typical colony morphology and express pluripotency markers Nanog and Tra-1-60.

B: Induced neurons at DIV21 are positive for the neuronal marker Map2 and the presynaptic marker synapsin.

C: IPS-derived astrocytes express GFAP and S100β at DIV44. Modified from Birnbaum et al., 2018, Stem Cell Research and from de Leeuw and Tackenberg, 2019, Translational Neurodegeneration.
 

Funding:

Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI); Novartis Foundation for medical-biological research; University of Zurich; Olga Mayenfisch Foundation; Neuroscience Center Zurich; Betty & David Koetser Foundation for Brain Research