Mathematical Biology Seminar: Roza Ghaemi
- Date: 04/26/2017
- Time: 13:45
University of British Columbia
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a burgeoning threat to Canada. With nearly 15% of Canadian elderly affected presently by AD and numbers expected to roughly double by 2040, the disease could potentially cost the country as much as $300 billion annually. Therefore, treating this debilitating disease is an urgent priority. There are no therapies on the market and none on the horizon. The absence of therapies stems from the lack of efficient pre-clinical screens available for discovering drugs against AD. Current available models for drug screening include cells grown on petridishes and mice; are very limited in scope. The former suffers from loss of context and does not adequately capture the complexity of the human brain. For instance, besides lacking 3D complexity, cell cultures do not incorporate key constituent tissues such as the protective barrier, which has long been the Achilles’ heel of therapies targeting the brain. As a consequence, penetration through barrier is never actually evaluated until the molecules are tested in diseased animal models. The latter, which is a better model, is still not equivalent to human brains. The dissimilarity between the 2D cell cultures and the animal models causes a mismatch between the clinical and pre-clinical results. To this end, the pre-clinical discovery platform we seek to develop could ultimately lead to improved clinical approval rates and lower drug development costs, which, in turn, could potentially translate to lower government expenditures on therapeutics. The proposed work combines concepts and insights from stem cell bioengineering, neuroscience and biomedical instrumentation. Our proposal to construct brain tissue models in order to test drugs could eventually lead to the development of one of the first ever drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders, which will directly benefit Canadians, and may prove to be a game changer for pharmaceutical testing and molecular medicine.