Current research of neurologic diseases is mainly performed using transgenic animal models. Although informative, they often differ considerably from the human in terms of genetics and pathological phenotype, and for many of these disorders, there are no truly adequate animal models.
Human primary cells are limited in their availability, reproducibility, and lifespan in culture. Alternatively, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs; induced pluripotent stem cells iPSCs and embryonic stem cells hESC) comprise a powerful tool for studying these disorders, though their full potential is yet to be realized.
The aim of our research is to generate a broadly applicable pipeline for the study of neurological disorders using specific diseased hESC lines, or patient derived iPSCs. We hypothesize that by implementing cutting edge neurophysiological research tools, alongside generation of functional neurons from diseased hPSCs, we will be able better to understand complex neurologic disorders in a human in vitro model system and to provide a platform that could be used for testing the ability of relevant drugs to ameliorate the neuronal deficits.
My name is Irena Vertkin, I did my Ph.D thesis under supervision of Prof. Inna Slutsky studying molecular mechanisms of memory. As well, I worked for a number of years in biotechnology company Proneuron, where we worked on developing treatments for spinal cord injury and stroke. In my previous research, we usually used animal models and I am very excited by the opportunity to contribute to the development of human cells based models for neurological diseases working with Prof. Dalit Ben Yosef.