Cell Programming Unit

Team leader: Michael Peitz


Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease comprise a heterogeneous group of sporadic or familial disorders of the nervous system that lead to progressive loss of neural cells. A major challenge in studying the molecular pathomechanisms underlying these disorders is the limited experimental access to disease-affected human neural tissue. Since the molecular disease initiation occurs years or decades before patients develop symptoms, biopsy or autopsy specimens can only reflect the final phase of the disease.
Novel cell (re)programming approaches such as the generation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from somatic cells or direct cell fate conversion provide access to virtually unlimited numbers of patient-specific neural lineages for the study of disease-relevant pathomechanisms. Successful identification of early pathological alterations should also help to uncover potential targets for drug development.

The Cell Programming Unit (CPU) is a joint platform founded by the University of Bonn Medical Faculty and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). The Unit is located in the LIFE & BRAIN Center in the heart of the Bonn medical campus. It aims at merging scientific know-how of the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology in cell reprogramming and neural differentiation with the expertise of the DZNE in the field of molecular disease research. The goal of the CPU is to catalyse and support the development of cellular disease models on the basis of patient-specific stem cells. We expect these activities to promote research into the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and the development of pharmaceutical and cell-based therapies.