Photo by Kari Pollock: The Huntington’s disease team members in the Nolta Lab are genetically engineering adult mesenchymal stem cells (known as the paramedic stem cells) to reduce levels of the mutant protein that causes the destruction of neurons in people living with this disease. The paramedic cells pictured above secrete brain-derived neurotrophic factors to help new neurons grow in the brains of mice. The team is working toward human clinical trials for these treatments.
Photo by Whitney Cary: The images captured above are brain cells called medium spiny neurons, derived from human stem cells. These are the type of neurons found in the striatum that are destroyed by neurological diseases such as Huntington’s disease (HD). A goal of the Nolta lab is to grow new neurons to better understand the disease and to one day replace those that have been lost or destroyed in advanced HD.
"Dr. Nolta is the Director of the Stem Cell Program at UC Davis School of Medicine, and directs the new Institute for Regenerative Cures. The UC Davis stem cell program has over 150 faculty members collaborating to work toward stem cell-related cures for a spectrum of diseases and injuries. The current research in Dr. Nolta’s laboratory is focused on developing therapies that will use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to deliver factors for treating Huntington’s disease and other disorders and injuries. Her group focuses on “bench to the bedside” research, and she has been involved in numerous clinical trials of gene and cell therapy. She is scientific director of the new Good Manufacturing Practice clean room facility at UC Davis, where stem cells of different types are being isolated or expanded for clinical trials. The basic research in the Nolta laboratory focuses on understanding the dynamics of stem cell migration and attraction to sites of injury. Following intravenous infusion, adult stem cells home to sites of tissue damage. Areas studied are cellular response to hypoxia and chemokines, cell motility, cell-to-cell interactions, and paracrine factors secreted by MSC at the site of injury." UC Davis Medical Center