Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents
Sally Temple, PhD
Host: Helen Blau
The discovery of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the developing and adult central nervous system(CNS) of model organisms and humans has opened new avenues to address devastating and currently incurable neurological conditions. Characterizing how NSCs produce the great variety of neuronal and glial progeny and how the environment impacts lineage choices has provided a foundational understanding of CNS development. This understanding is also important for therapeutic approaches to replace lost CNS cells due to trauma or neurodegenerative conditions. Recently we identified a new stem cell in the adult human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) that we are using to develop a cell therapy for patients with the blinding condition age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Translating basic NSC research towards the clinic presents challenges, including how to define these complex cell products more reliably, how to efficiently establish safety and efficacy, and how to gather resources to enable early phase studies. Identification of a novel stem cell in the RPE layer enables both cell replacement strategies and provides future opportunities to activate this cell to stimulate endogenous repair. This is an exciting time to think about how NSC research has expanded our knowledge of and paved the way for new neuro-regenerative therapies.