The Division of Regenerative Medicine conducts research that utilizes vector-based gene therapies and cell-based interventions for genetic and acquired diseases.
The Division consists of nine members including one faculty, four postdoctoral fellows, three research technicians, and one administrative staff. In addition, the Division has one graduate student. Dr. Bruce A. Bunnell, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Tulane Medical School, is Chairman of the Division.
The functions of the Division can be divided into three main areas:
The research component of the Division is active and involves collaborative and independent work in a number of areas. Studies focus on the development of gene and cell-based therapies for diseases of the central nervous and pulmonary systems.
The research activities of the Division can be divided into investigations of Regenerative Medicine, stem cell biology and therapeutic applications and characterization of a nonhuman primate model of Krabbé’s disease.
Vector-based Regenerative Medicine is a central focus of the Division. This work involves efforts to develop vector-based Regenerative Medicine strategies for Krabbé’s disease. The lab is currently developing a series of lentivirus vectors for the expression of GALC, the defective gene in Krabbé’s disease, both in vitro and in vivo. Our group has also established collaborations with two investigators from the University of Pennsylvania. We are presently investigating the biodistribution and transduction patterns for novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes and serotypes of lentivirus vectors.
The stem cell program is presently focused on three sources of adult stem cells; mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from bone marrow and adipose tissue and neural stem cells directly from the brain. In the coming year, we will be collaborating with Don Wolf from the Oregon NPRC by obtaining rhesus embryonic stem cells and doing direct comparisons between these and adult stem cells in the CNS. With our connection to the Krabbé’s Colony, we have begun to focus both of these research areas toward therapy for Krabbé’s disease. The Division is investigating the application of stem cells for pulmonary diseases in collaboration with investigators from the University of Vermont and the University of Pittsburgh. Lastly, the Division is beginning exciting research that assesses the therapeutic benefits provided by various stem cell populations in a nonhuman primate model of stroke.
The Division is also responsible for coordinating studies in the only model of genetic disease in nonhuman primates, the Krabbé’s monkey. As such, the Division is focused on the development and analysis of novel Regenerative Medicine strategies for lysosomal storage diseases. More importantly, the Krabbé’s rhesus monkeys are an invaluable national resource that will be available to investigators nationwide.
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