Paul Tesar (Convelo Therapeutics)

Io­n­is, lead­ing MS re­searcher throw an­ti­sense at a new type of brain cells

No mat­ter how many mol­e­cules he threw at them, Paul Tesar couldn’t get the brain cells to sur­vive. Or he got them to sur­vive, but then — to every­one’s baf­fle­ment — they still couldn’t do what they were sup­posed to.

Tesar, a pro­fes­sor of in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­peu­tics at Case West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, had spent years build­ing stem cell mod­els for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, grow­ing brain organoids in dish­es and then see­ing what small mol­e­cules re­stored myelin pro­duc­tion. Now he was try­ing to do the same for oth­er myelin dis­eases, par­tic­u­lar­ly an ul­tra-rare ge­net­ic con­di­tion called Pelizaeus-Merzbach­er dis­ease, where a sin­gle mu­ta­tion leads to the death of the myelin-pro­duc­ing neu­rons, called oligo­den­dro­cytes, and can kill pa­tients in in­fan­cy.

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