Australian stem cell company Genea Biocells and Duke University have been awarded a joint collaborative grant by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA). HDSA declared this award their highest ranking application and the distinguished winner of the Amy Bradshaw Humphrey Memorial Award.
The joint application, entitled Human Stem Cell-Derived Neuromuscular Co-culture Platform for Assessing Peripheral Manifestation of Huntington’s Disease was awarded for the development of a stem cell based neuromuscular model of the debilitating neurodegenerative genetic disorder.
Dr Lo’s team, led by Dr. Barbara Calamini and also including Duke researchers Bijal Shah and Emery Edmondson, will collaborate with Genea Biocells to compare stem cell derived muscle cells with biopsied muscle cells from HD patients and provide an alternative resource for disease modelling and drug screening in difficult to obtain patient tissues and organs.
“We are very grateful for HDSA’s support and delighted at the opportunity to partner with Dr Lo’s team to further the development of a novel platform which aims to facilitate drug screening efforts and biomarker studies in Huntington’s Disease,” Genea Biocells Business Development VP Dr Jamshid Arjomand said.
Also co-Principal Investigator on the application, Dr Arjomand said the aim of the studies is to investigate the suitability of skeletal muscle for HD research using stem cells coaxed into becoming muscle cells.
“Since sampling human brain for drug testing is not possible, more accessible tissues, such as blood, skin and muscle might provide alternative substitutes for research and drug discovery.”
Genea Biocells has previously derived HD human stem cells and recently developed a proprietary method for making human skeletal muscle from pluripotent stem cells.