Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU Establishes Gulf War Illness Human Stem Cell Biorepository

A team that includes Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers has created a biorepository of stem cells from the blood of veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI) that will be shared with other researchers and used for mechanistic studies and to test therapeutic compounds, according to a new paper in the journal Neurology.

The team, which includes  Dr. Kimberly Sullivan, research assistant professor of environmental health at BUSPH and principal investigator on the multi-site Gulf War Illness Consortium, is obtaining peripheral blood cells from Gulf War veterans with GWI and those without, as controls, and turning them into human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), in collaboration with the BU CReM center.

It is the first time that human-induced neurons will be used to try to identify alterations in axonal transport, microtubule functioning and neuroinflamnati0n that may contribute to deficits in cognitive functioning and other symptoms of GWI. This type of study has not been possible due to a lack of available veterans’ post-mortem brain tissue.

Dr. Sullivan said the biorepository “will now allow researchers to use both human and animal neurons as a cross-validation of results in translational biomarker studies.” In addition, she said, human-induced neurons are a better path toward developing and testing therapies, given that some features of human neurodegeneration are not reflected in animal models.

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