In a lab near UW Hospital, Megan Jandy grows stem cells from people with Down syndrome — 10 batches of cells, most in three-dimensional clusters, each batch featuring one group with the extra chromosome that causes the disorder and one group without it.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes blindness due to loss of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptors (PRs), which comprise the two outermost layers of the retina.
Multiple discoveries born from the minds and hard work of Waisman Center investigators have left the nest to become successful companies or products that have had a significant impact in the world through translational research.
Today, many researchers are using brain organoids – miniaturized and simplified versions of organs produced in a dish typically from stem cells – as analogs for studying the development of the human brain.
Photoreceptors (PRs) are the primary visual sensory cells, and their loss leads to blindness that is currently incurable. Although cell replacement therapy holds promise, success is hindered by our limited understanding of PR axon growth during development and regeneration.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neuromuscular disease in which patients gradually become paralyzed due to loss of motor function. Many genetically inheritable mutations have been linked to ALS; however, the majority of ALS patients are considered sporadic.
Over two decades of fundamental research in Parkinson’s disease led by Su-Chun Zhang, MD, PhD, professor of neuroscience and neurology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Waisman investigator, has culminated in the development of a promising stem cell-based treatment for the disease.
James Thomson helped the scientific world turn its attention to the shape-shifting stem cells that give rise to all of the building blocks of complex living organisms, from skin and bone, to hearts and blood, to neurons and brains.
Polymeric scaffolds are revolutionizing therapeutics for blinding disorders affecting the outer retina, a region anatomically and functionally defined by light-sensitive photoreceptors. Recent engineering advances have produced planar scaffolds optimized for retinal pigment epithelium monolayer delivery, which are being tested in early stage clinical trials.
The mature brain is infamously bad at repairing itself following damage like that caused by trauma or strokes, or from degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Stem cells, which are endlessly adaptable, have offered the promise of better neural repair. But the brain’s precisely tuned complexity has stymied the development of clinical treatments.