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Rensselaer professor utilizing New York state grant to study adult stem cells
Date:3/9/2011

s environment or "niche" contains vascular and other cells, proteins, carbohydrates, and other cell products. In this niche, stem cells multiply in an orderly manner and can differentiate into new nerve cells or other non-nerve cells in the brain known as glia. Without the key control elements of the niche, a stem cell might multiply quickly, turning from a promising cure to a cancerous tumor. Without a clear understanding of the stem cell niche, a medical treatment involving stem cells could be very risky.

An element of the stem cell niche that Thompson is studying with this round of NYSTEM funding is endothelial cells. These cells line the interior of blood vessels, which are highly concentrated in the regions of the brain where neural stem cells reside. In particular, Thompson is looking at how materials produced by endothelial cells during their development influence neural stem cells' fate. According to Thompson, such control could allow for the development of stem cell therapies grown from an individual patient's own neural stem cells.

To perform her research, Thompson will utilize the resources of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer.

"Deanna's work, which is at the interface of cell biology and materials science, epitomizes the interdisciplinary research within CBIS," said CBIS Director and the Howard P. Isermann '42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Jonathan Dordick. "By studying the physiology and function of adult stem cells in a synthetic niche, Deanna has identified key determinants of neuronal cell growth and differentiation. Her work has impacted the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine and has helped CBIS make a name for itself in this critical research area."

Her work with brain cells has several other important implications beyond stem cell therapies. Another facet of her research as a member of National Science Foundation-funded Rensselaer Nano
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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