Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine
Lab of Dr. Evangelos Kiskinis
A third ALS research laboratory was launched at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine under the leadership of Evangelos Kiskinis, PhD in 2015. Dr. Kiskinis, recruited from the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard University, joined the Center to further its mission by making it a nationwide center of excellence for the study, treatment and eventual cure of ALS. Dr. Kiskinis is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Physiology at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and serves as the Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Technologies Facility.
Dr. Kiskinis and his colleagues seek to harness the power of pluripotent stem cells to understand how neuronal function and the neuromuscular circuitry are impaired in ALS. His laboratory utilizes patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and direct reprogramming methods to generate different neuronal subtypes of the central nervous system, including spinal motor neurons and cortical neuronal subtypes. They then study these cells by using a combination of molecular, biochemical and functional electrophysiological assays. As a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Dr. Kiskinis developed novel cellular models of ALS based on iPSC technology. He and his colleagues discovered an interaction between ER-related stress and electrophysiological abnormalities that are mediated by defective potassium currents and result in the selective death of patient motor neurons. This work directly led to the initiation of an ongoing Phase II clinical trial for ALS currently underway at Massachusetts General Hospital to measure the effect on neurophysiological excitability (motor neuron) measures of ezogabine in ALS subjects compared to non-ALS subjects. Learn more here.
The goals of Dr. Kiskinis and his team are to discover novel mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction, to understand the level and nature of heterogeneity in ALS and to identify points of targeted and effective therapeutic intervention for ALS.
Visit the Evangelos Kiskinis Lab website to learn more about the research being conducted.
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Dr. Evangelos Kiskinis’ lab was awarded a $300,000 research grant by MDA to decipher the degree of mechanistic overlap in different forms of ALS. Results from this work may guide drug development to determine which drugs might be effective in ALS patients with different forms of the disease. You can read an article by MDA called, “Five Questions with ALS Researcher Evangelos Kiskinis,” to learn more about his research here.
Dr. Kiskinis spoke about the latest developments in his lab at the Stem Cell Podcast, the official podcast of the International Society of Stem Cell Research. You can listen to the interview here.
Dr. Kiskinis also gave a keynote presentation on his work on ALS in the 3rd Annual 24 Hours of Stem Cells event organized by Thermo Fischer; as well as at the iForum, a meeting on stem cell technologies organized by Cellular Dymanics. You can watch these presentations on demand here and here.