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Exomedicine Institute/Space Tango

Moving a research collaboration into microgravity for Parkinson's and progressive MS research

Exomedicine Institute/Space Tango
Lexington, KY

NSCF partnered with the Exomedicine Institute and Space Tango to coordinate the first four launches of an NSCF-funded project collaboration to the International Space Station (ISS).

Cells behave very differently in microgravity for reasons not yet completely understood; the need to understand is galvanizing research teams at academic centers worldwide. We connected our funded researchers Scripps Research in La Jolla and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute in NYC for a first in kind study of neurodegeneration on the ISS. The study is using organoids derived from people with Parkinson’s disease and primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Biography for Dr. Fossati:

Dr. Fossati received her PhD at the University of Bologna – Italy, and joined Dr. Hans Snoeck’s lab at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2006 while still a PhD student.

She has been working on the development of the immune system, focusing on B lymphocytes first and, as a post doctoral fellow, on the generation of thymic epithelial cells from embryonic stem cells.

Her interest in the stem cell field goes back to her undergraduate studies, at a time when the concept of regenerative medicine was just emerging as a truly exciting approach to cure diseases. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2009 shifted her research interest to better understanding the disease and in particular its neurodegenerative component, which is responsible for irreversible neurological disabilities and therefore represents a new target for therapeutic intervention.

Bringing the stem cells expertise to the MS field, she developed a research plan that focuses on modeling MS with human cells, understanding genetic susceptibility by studying patient-specific cells and, ultimately, drug discovery and cell replacement therapies targeting neurodegeneration and de-myelination.

Biography for Dr. Bratt-Leal:

Dr. Bratt-Leal received his B.S. from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and Emory University in the field of Biomedical Engineering.

His specialty lies in the field of directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, including differentiating stem cells towards dopaminergic neurons (the cells which are lost in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.)

He joined the Loring lab at Scripps Research specifically to work on the Parkinson’s project and is now Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Aspen Neuroscience.

Learn more about this collaboration here.