Stem Cell Transplant Strategies in Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Howe's lab is researching stem cell transplant strategies in multiple sclerosis with the goal of establishing a paradigm for validating the reparative potential of patient-derived stem cells prior to transplant. Remyelination of demyelinated axons will simultaneously improve axon function and protect the axon from immune-mediated injury.

The lab has established a platform for characterizing the remyelinating potential of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte precursor cells. The platform can be used as a quality control measure prior to transplant of these cells into the optic nerves of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Focus areas include:

  • Developing a high-throughput device for screening stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte precursor cells
  • Characterizing a new mouse model of optic nerve demyelination by applying the same tools currently available for the analysis of optic neuritis and retinal injury in humans, including fundus imaging, optical coherence tomography, positron emission tomography integrated with CT, MRI and visual evoked potentials
  • Determining the functional preservation and repair elicited by intravitreal transplant of oligodendrocyte precursor cells in mice with demyelinated optic nerves
  • Developing new cell-based, animal model-based and patient-specific tools for the quantitative analysis of remyelination