Promoting neural regeneration with stem cell based therapies: A novel source of autologous human neural stem cells for transplantation

Funding Details
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Grant type: Operating Grant: Industry-partnered Collaborative Research
  • Years: 2014/15 to 2018/19
  • Total Funding: $1,250,000
Principle Investigator(s)

Project Summary

While the promise of stem cells is real, the reality of stem cell based therapies is limited by an incomplete understanding of the multitude of interactions required for successful transplantation therapies. The most significant challenge is identifying the ideal cell type that should be employed for the treatment of CNS disease. In this proposal we will explore the fundamental biology and therapeutic potential of a novel population of human neural precursor cells (NPCs) that have been developed through direct reprogramming (drNPCs). The drNPCs surpass traditional translational potential by allowing the use of a patient's own cells for transplantation, eliminating tissue rejection concerns and providing amplified potential to transform regenerative medicine. The unique direct reprogramming approach permits the creation of NPCs from mature, accessible patient cells without going through a pluripotency state which essentially eliminates the risk of tumour formation and overcomes a number of current safety challenges. Our team of stem cell biologists, surgeon-scientists, bioengineers and neuroscientists will explore the fundamental biology and therapeutic potential of human drNPCs that have been developed at New World Laboratories, our industry partner. We will take advantage of our expertise in biomaterials to overcome the challenge of poor cell viability and integration following transplantation. We will develop and optimize the cell delivery methodology to promote cell survival and integration following transplantation in rodent and non-human primate models of CNS injury and disease. We hypothesize that human drNPCs will provide an ideal cell source for the treatment of stroke, spinal cord injury and Parkinson's disease, and will ultimately be suitable for applications in human clinical trials. Together, our team of researchers and partners in industry provide a unique opportunity to make a significant difference to the health of Canadians.