Recent technological advances in the biomedical field as a whole, to which our center has contributed, have allowed us to develop different subtypes of human brain cells in a dish from individual patients by making human stem cells from adult tissue. Using just a small sample of blood, we can generate a self-renewing source of stem cells, which in turn provides us with a virtually unlimited supply of brain cells with the same genetic background as the individual who donated the blood sample. This allows us an unprecedented level of access to human brain cells, derived from the patients we see in the clinic. This relatively new technology is transforming the way disorders of the nervous system are studied.
There is a strong potential for this technology to: 1) identify the underlying causes of neurodegenerative disease in different patient populations, 2) identify personalized strategies for treatments, and 3) test responsiveness to therapeutics in brain cells from different human donors. This technology can be used to study all neurological diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, ALS and mental illness. A new initiative in our center - the iPSC NeuroHub - aims to make the cells, tools and protocols accessible to labs studying all of these diseases in our center.