Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), US, are using the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund to make new discoveries in brain health.

With the Voelcker Fund, UTSA is planning to bring stem cell and regenerative medicine research to new heights.

UTSA professor John McCarrey said: “In the past, researchers used skin or blood cells from a person with a disease like Alzheimer’s to get a closer look at their illness.

“However, because Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, not of the blood or skin, it was questionable whether looking at those cells was particularly useful.”

McCarrey collaborated with Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker distinguished professor in chemistry Doug Frantz, associate professor of research Chris Navara, and Semmes Foundation distinguished university chair in Neurobiology George Perry to create PriStem.

PriStem is a UTSA facility solely focused on finding methods to treat neuro-degenerative disease, as well as other afflictions with pluripotent stem cells.

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By GlobalData
“In the past, researchers used skin or blood cells from a person with a disease like Alzheimer’s to get a closer look at their illness.”

In order to get to the core of neurodegenerative disease, the UTSA researchers felt that it is necessary to look at afflicted brain cells.

For this, they are using pluripotent stem cells that can become any kind of cell in a person’s body.

This gives PriStem the ability to study neurodegenerative disease using any cell from the body of a patient and change it into an actual brain cell that may as well have come from the person.

Known as ‘disease in a dish,’ this personalised research can be used to test drugs designed to treat illnesses of all kinds.

The Voelcker Fund is also supporting research opportunities for the university’s undergraduate and graduate students to help them gain experience working in cutting-edge laboratories.