She flew from Paris to America to chase her scientific dreams. Today there is his signature and the signature of researchers in his lab in Los Angeles: a 'miniature cerebellum' – a new organoid model – that produces all the major cell types in this part of the brain. Two 'families' of cells are essential for movement, cognition and emotion: granule cells and Purkinje neurons.
Giorgia Cuadrado, an Italian scientist with a 'suitcase', has been developing this research for some time, and the progress of her research has already graced the pages of scientific journals such as 'Nature' (in 2017). In 2018 he arrived at the University of Southern California (USC), where the laboratory was born, becoming the 'home' of a recent scientific effort, the results of which were published in 'Cell Stem Cell'.
The work illustrates that this is the first time scientists have been able to grow Purkinje cells with the molecular and electrophysiological characteristics of functional neurons in an entire human system. Cuadrado, an assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at American University, has paved the way for the study of cerebellar diseases (including pediatric tumors).
The cerebellum controls movement and plays an important role in cognitive functions including language, spatial processing, working memory, executive functions, and emotional processing. Purkinje cell degeneration is associated with various neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, including autism spectrum disorder and cerebellar ataxia, the latter condition affecting muscle movement.
“Reproducible co-development and maturation of key cell types of the developing cerebellum in a human organoid model provides a new way to investigate the biology underlying cerebellar development and disorders and to advance therapeutic interventions,” highlights the tricolor researcher. Based at the Eli and Edith Pratt Sirm Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC's Keck School of Medicine.
Raised in Puglia, Cuadrado had an interest in Greek philosophy and the Greek and Latin classics, which eventually led to science, and loved challenges, according to his online profile on the Keck School of Medicine website. That's why he devotes his efforts in the lab to creating 3D networks of human nerve cells. He manages to draw conclusions from a complex challenge.
Other neurons in the organelles of the group—excitatory neurons that share information and inhibitory neurons that inhibit information sharing—form circuits and display coordinated network activity, demonstrating that they are functional nerve cells. Additionally, Quadrado lab organoids produce human-specific progenitor cells associated with medulloblastoma, the most common metastatic brain tumor in children. This makes it a useful model for studying and finding treatments for this pediatric cancer, experts point out. Given the right external signals, organoids can be induced to form anatomical features such as layers that mimic the normal development of the embryonic brain.
This 'miniature cerebellum' creates a platform for discovering new treatments for various diseases. Ultimately, the USC stem cell scientists' study “provides an all-human, physiologically relevant model system for elucidating cell-type-specific mechanisms that regulate cerebellar development and disease,” notes first author Alexander Atamian, a PhD student in Cuadrado's lab. study
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