Plasticell Ltd, a developer of stem cell technologies and regenerative medicines, has announced that the Advanced Stem Cell Training Network (ASCTN), a European research consortium in which the company is a partner organisation, has successfully bid for over €3,700,000 in funding from the European Union to create and exploit advanced cellular models of neurological disorders – notably Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Demyelination disease – which are caused by acute or progressive loss of cells in the brain.
“Neurodegeneration is a hallmark of many incurable diseases that are fast becoming major global health problems as the world’s elderly population continues to increase”, commented Dr Yen Choo, founder and Executive Chairman of Plasticell. “Discovering effective treatments for these conditions will require a deeper understanding of disease mechanisms, as well as more effective drug screening strategies, both of which will benefit from better cellular models of neurodegeneration.”
Alongside Plasticell, the research Network also comprises: the Karolinska Institute, San Raffaele Hospital, Cardiff University, University of Barcelona, Autonomous University of Madrid, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Technical University of Dresden and Poietis SA. ASCTN is funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Initial Training Network and Grant Agreement No. 813851.
The different participating laboratories specialise in human stem cell manipulation, combinatorial cell culture, directed neuronal and glial differentiation, microfluidics and single cell analysis, advanced imaging, brain-on-chip and 3D tissue engineering. Moreover, other key specialisms include cerebral organoids, ex vivo gene expression, direct cellular reprograming, mouse genetic modification, animal models of neurological disease, scaffold implantation and stem cell transplants into the brain.
Plasticell’s CombiCult® combinatorial cell culture technology will specifically be used to generate high fidelity, progenitor and terminally differentiated neuronal and glial cell subtypes for incorporation into next-generation models. Of particular interest is a brain-on-chip model to study interactions between patient iPSC-derived striatal medium spiny neurons (MSN) and dopaminergic neurons.
“We are delighted to be part of this exciting European consortium of scientists and engineers who will apply diverse technologies to produce patient-specific human neural models in test tubes, microchips or model organisms,” Dr Choo added.