The Center for Genomically Engineered Organs (CGEO) will combine cutting edge genomics, genome editing technology, tissue engineering methods, and new modes of super-resolution microscopy to develop improved models of complex tissues. These tissues will be producible in laboratories from reprogrammed or genetically modified stem or other cells, will contain multiple cell types and vasculatures representative of healthy or diseased natural tissues, and will be characterized deeply at a molecular level and for overall tissue architecture. Such model tissues will greatly expedite biomedical progress by providing researchers a way to conduct preliminary tests of theories about normal and disease biology quickly and inexpensively in their laboratories before they have to move on to costly and potentially invasive experiments on animals or humans.
To build the capacity to generate such organ models CGEO will develop methods for comprehensively analyzing tissues in situ at a molecular level, by acquiring high-throughput RNA expression, protein expression, and epigenomic data from each of the tissue’s individual cells in ways that retain information about the locations of the cells in the tissues and of the molecules within the cells. CGEO will particularly focus on developing and analyzing model tissues important to neurobiology by generating vascularized cerebral organoids that contain neurons of different types derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Vascularizing these organoids will enable them to be perfused with nutrients and improve elimination of wastes, and thus allow them to grow into larger and more mature forms. In situ molecular data obtained from these organoids and their constituent hiPSC-generated cell types will be compared with data from comparable natural tissues to assess and improve their representativeness.
CGEO is a collaboration of four laboratories in the Boston area with combined expertise in advanced genomic and proteomic technology, genome engineering, stem cell technology, epigenetics, super-resolution microscopy, and tissue engineering. Go here to read about the CGEO team.