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Gabsang Lee

On using patient's stem cells to study peripheral nervous system diseases:

Video transcription: "Neural crest cells are a very transient cell population in early development. We are very interested in how neural crest cells become peripheral neurons or Swann cells or melanocytes or other cell types.

"Now, our lab has developed a new way to acquire human neural crest cells from human pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Once we take out the patient’s fibroblasts, we add several genes that will turn those fibroblasts into pluripotent status.

"Using those stem cells, we can understand human genetic disorders and how those symptoms are presenting. And, we can also use those cells for high-throughput screening in an individualized manner and after genetic intervention, we can correct those neural crest cells and we can consider a possible transplantation back to the patient.

"One example is, there are patients who cannot feel any pain. So we think there is some sort of abnormality in pain sensory neuron development as well as the maintenance of their function. So we can make the iPS cells from those patient’s fibroblasts and we can induce those iPS cells into peripheral sensory neurons. Then we can understand why patients cannot feel any pain and from that source we may be able to find a new cure for the disease, as well as new pain killer drugs."