The 32nd annual meeting of NECTAR (Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration) was in Athens this October, and wow, what a lineup of talks we had! It was great to be there, soak up all the science, and even share our own work on microglia-like cells to model neurodegenerative diseases.
“Tool kit for dopaminergic progenitor cells production”
But maybe you missed it? Maybe you didn’t have time to get out of the lab and head to Athens. Don’t worry, here’s a rundown of some of the best talks in just three minutes. (Although we can’t help with the gorgeous sights of Athens you also missed out on. Sorry. Try to imagine the Akropolis as you read this.)
Tilo Kunath (Institute for Stem Cell Research, University of Edinburgh, UK) kicked the first session off with a “Tool kit for dopaminergic progenitor cells production”. Tilo talked about dopaminergic progenitor cells being very sensitive to CHIR concentration. His group successfully cryopreserved mDA neural progenitor cells in a ready-to-use format to model Parkinson’s disease in a dish.
3-D mini brains
In the second session, Jens Schwamborn (Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine) shared some exciting work on developing 3-D mini brains specifically using iPSC from patients with Parkinson’s disease. These mini-brains are being developed to help the R&D behind new therapeutics.
Artificial extracellular matrix scaffolds
Another very interesting talk in the same session was about artificial extracellular matrix scaffolds to enhance the maturation and aging of iPSC-derived neurons to model neurodegenerative disease pathology by Evangelous Kiskinis (Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago USA).
Tailoring patient treatment
The patient advocacy session on Tuesday evening was excellent. Benjamin Stecher (the Chair of the Patient Advisory Board (PAB), Rune Labs, San Francisco, USA) was really interesting. It was especially informative to hear from someone who lives with Parkinson’s disease, and how science can help to tailor patient treatment.
The plenary speakers
As expected, the plenary speakers gave some really inspiring talks; specifically, Ido Amit (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) showed some great single-cell data on monitoring cells over time, as well as the role of microglia and inflammatory macrophages in aging and neurodegeneration.
Lee Rubin (Harvard Stem Cell Institute, USA) talked about molecular mediators in his plenary presentation, and the best approach to identify treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Clive Svendsen (Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute, Los Angeles, USA) offered a lot of fascinating insight into the process of going into clinical trials.
Human iPSC-derived Microglia-like cells as a model for Neurodegenerative diseases
On Wednesday, the last day of the meeting, Chiara Zurzolo (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France) presented some very intriguing data regarding possible communication between cells through tunneling nanotubes. She also came and spoke with us after our talk, interested in our microglia cells to investigate similar communication between microglia and in a coculture model. Keep your eyes peeled for new research in this area!
And as we mentioned, we were there, where our very own Vijitha Sathiaseelan (Group Leader, Axol Biosciences) spoke about human iPSC-derived Microglia-like cells as a model for Neurodegenerative diseases.