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Fostering the Future of Undergraduate Research

A visit with Ted Tarkow, Professor of Classical Studies & Associate Dean of Arts & Science

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: undergraduate research pre-professional education mentorship

Corinne Alinea - A Potential Role for Programmed Cell Death in the Formation of an In Vitro Neural Stem Cell Niche

Topics: stem cells

Corinne Alinea, Biological Sciences

Mark Kirk, Mentor

Our main focus in the Kirk Lab is developing stem cell therapies for Batten Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disease in children. We propose that transplanting an entire self-sustaining population of cells, a neural stem cell (NSC) niche, would greatly enhance survival of patients and alleviate some symptoms; and we have developed a way to produce a NSC niche-like structure in vitro. My part in the project is to test for cell death within this structure by using Trypan Blue Exclusion and TUNEL assays. My preliminary results show that cell death is present in no overt pattern within the structure. After proposing that cell death is taking place in more differentiated cells that cannot be maintained in these basic culture conditions, our next step is to prove that these differentiated cells are actually the ones dying and to attempt to prevent death by the addition of serum. Ultimately, we hope one day to develop a method for in vivo transplantation of the entire NSC niche-like structure.