Veneto Nicolas Elvasor among the winners of the 2021 Advanced Scholarship

Nicolas Elvasor

Nicolas Elvasor, Principal Investigator at the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padua, is among the winners of the “Advance Grants 2021” call announced in recent months by the European Research Council (ERC), established by the consortium European in 2007 to become the leading European funding organization to support excellent research.

The grant awarded to Professor Elvassor by the ERC – worth €2.5 million, part of the total amount of €624 million awarded to 253 excellent researchers engaged in frontier research across Europe – will fund the ReprOids project, which aims to develop human brain organoids in a scalable way. Reproducible and fast, with a procedure that allows the generation of a very wide range of phenotypes associated with different stages of brain development, starting with the patient’s cells.

“Determining the causes and mechanisms associated with the emergence of brain developmental diseases is a challenging challenge, given that there are few accessible samples of human brain tissue, that brain anatomy is complex and there is a lack of 3D models capable of simulating human brain development and associated diseases in the laboratory.” “Induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) and organelles technology are an ideal combination for reproducing in vitro disorders related to brain development,” confirms Professor Nicolas Elvassore.

In particular, the ReprOids project aims to model the in vitro morphogenesis of the nervous system in an ongoing process starting with ‘newborn’ hiPSCs passing through epithelial sacs, neuroepithelial sacs, and finally 3D brain organoids.
Thanks to this technology, and starting with cells from a large group of patients with fragile X syndrome (FXS) – the main genetic cause associated with intellectual disability – organoids will be created that allow the study of the early stages of the development of this disease. disease, otherwise inaccessible.

“Thanks to the ReprOids project, I will be able to produce brain organelles capable of reproducing the full range of potential phenotypic manifestations associated with genetic and epigenetic diversity in individual patients with FXS and reveal the still unexplored mechanisms regulating brain development,” adds Professor Elvassor.

“The results of the project will allow a major step forward in defining future therapeutic strategies for those affected by FXS, as well as have a significant impact on the clinical management of the patient at the level of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.”

Nicolas Al Fassor

He holds a BA in Chemical Engineering (1995) and a PhD in Molecular Thermodynamics (1998) from the University of Padua. After a stint as a visiting scientist at the University of California (Berkeley), he became a researcher and associate professor at the University of Padua and then a full professor in 2019. He worked as a Fulbright Research Associate in the Harvard Department of Health Sciences at MIT and MIT Distinguished Professor in the Bioengineering at Shanghai Tech University.

The main interest of his research is the creation of human models to study diseases thanks to an integrated approach between engineering principles and basic biological sciences. It has received funding from many national and international foundations and foundations (eg Telethon and CaRiPaRo). Today he won an ERC Advanced Grant with Project ReprOids (2022-2027), which will produce organoids in the human brain in a fast and reproducible manner, with a procedure that allows the generation of a very diverse range of phenotypes starting from patient cells. . associated with different stages of brain development.

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