The Ohio State University
As a member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics team at the OSUCCC – James, Dr. Anand, along with his laboratory, has recently developed human adult stem cell (iPSC) derived models of cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, Dr. Anand’s work focuses on understanding how genes and the environment give rise to such debilitating brain diseases. Dr. Anand’s laboratory has independently generated human iPSC-derived synthetic neural organoids which exhibit a remarkable level of development that morphologically resembles a nearly complete human embryonic central nervous system at ~5 week in utero development, but after ~12 weeks in culture in vitro. Using a proprietary process, Dr. Anand and his team have engineered neural organoids from Alzheimer’s disease and tuberous sclerosis patient skin cells with identified genetic mutations in susceptibility genes. His lab’s transcriptomics results remarkably show comprehensive and accurate correlation of the dysregulated expression of hundreds of genes previously correlated with the clinical symptoms and/or pathologies of both of these diseases. His team’s “NexGen” synthetic neural organoid models allow them to use whole genome transcriptomic to monitor changes in gene expression in response of the models to genetic or environmental perturbations of human brain physiology making their models useful for disease research and drug discovery efforts.
Stem Cells Applications in Translational and Regenerative Medicine Neurological Disorders: We are interested in studying how genes and the environment interact to increase susceptibility to neurodevelopmental, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. We are currently developing human induced pluripotent stem cell derived neurons and brain organoids to use as in vitro models of the human brain. These human brain organoid models will allow us to study 1) how exposure to drugs of abuse in utero, such as in pregnant nicotine users, alters the early brain development of the fetus; and 2) how human gene variants contribute to neurological disorder susceptibility. We are currently interested in developing brain organoids to study autism, drug addiction and Parkinson's disease. Development of Therapeutics: The drug targets for a number of diseases including cancer, heart disease and neurological diseases are cell surface membrane proteins such as receptor tyrosine kinases, ion channels and G-protein coupled receptors. The greatest challenge for in silico design of drugs is the significant lack of high-resolution structures for most of these membrane proteins of therapeutic value because structural studies such as X-ray crystallography and high-resolution NMR need significant amounts of protein which are very challenging to produce in vitro.