Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Daniel Gallego-Perez has earned a $250,000 grant from the Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation to continue development of novel therapies for Alzheimer’s disease by converting adult skin cells into stem-like cells.
Caused by the accumulation of sticky and toxic proteins inside the brain, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. According to the CDC, as many as 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.
This is the second research grant Gallego-Perez has received from the foundation.
“In the first project we worked on the use of tissue nano-transfection in mice to generate neurons from the skin, to replenish neurons in the brain that are lost due to Alzheimer’s disease.” -Dr. Daniel Gallego-Perez
Results indicated that such cell replacement therapies show promise for the treatment of this condition.
With the second grant, his research team will employ a similar approach to replenish and replace other cell populations and structures in the brain, including the neurovascular unit, which is a more complex structure made from different cell types. Several studies have shown that defective cerebral blood flow may contribute to the onset and/or progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers will assess if the combined injection of neural and vascular cells derived from skin cells can increase cerebral blood flow and reduce toxic protein accumulation and dementia symptoms.
In 2018, Gallego-Perez won a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award to build on earlier studies that demonstrated how tissue nanotransfection can convert skin cells into blood vessels and nerve cells. Results of that regenerative medicine study appeared in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Its primary mission is to encourage, promote and support medical research focused on stem cells, typically by funding research and clinical programs undertaken by qualified organizations.