Christoph Hansis, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of OB/GYN;
MD, PhD 1999, University of Luebeck

NYU School of Medicine
660 First Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 263-3392
Fax: (212) 263-0059

Lab Website:
Research Theme(s): Stem cell biology, disease modeling, pathogenic mechanisms, neuronal conditions, drug development, regenerative medicine
Keywords: Human embryonic stem cells, cell line derivation, genetic diseases, mutation analysis, preimplantation genetic diagnosis,neurogenesis, replacement tissue

Research Summary:

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the potential to revolutionize many biomedical fields ranging from basic research to the mechanisms of pluripotency and cell differentiation, the generation of replacement tissue and the development of new tools for drug discovery and toxicity testing.  A number of hESC lines have been derived worldwide since the first five lines by Thomson and colleagues in 1998, but many of these are poorly characterized, unavailable or do not represent desired traits.  In particular, many genetic conditions have not been reflected in hESCs as disease models and some of the existing lines are thought to contain slightly differentiated cells rather than most undifferentiated ones.  In my lab at New York University, we are using the latest techniques to derive new high-quality hESC lines from discard genetically normal and abnormal embryos as assessed by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).  The genetically abnormal NYUES lines carry disease-specific mutations; we thoroughly analyze these mutations, grow tissue most affected by a particular condition such as neuronal cells for Tay-Sachs disease and Down syndrome and study molecular and cellular pathogenic mechanisms such as intergenerational CGG triplet expansion for fragile X syndrome.  These cells also serve to perform drug discovery screenings and toxicity assays by observing reversal or avoidance of cellular pathological features.  Furthermore, we derive normal NYUES lines as reference points for the above experiments and to generate customized differentiated tissue for regenerative medicinepurposes such as erythrocytes and beating cardiomyocytes.  For all lines, detailed examination of pluripotency and early differentiation markers, growth rate, differentiation potential into derivatives of the three germ layers, X chromosome activation status and DNA fingerprinting and global gene expression profiles ensures a maximum quality of the cells.  To our knowledge, a number of characteristics of our hESCs have not previously been reported, e.g. mutationfor alpha thalassemia X-linked mental retardation syndrome and linkage to conditions with a genetic component such as asthma or poor sperm morphology.  All of our undifferentiated euploid female lines tested to date show two active X chromosomes which is believed to result in superior hESC potency.

Our hESC lines are made available to collaborators to further study pluripotency and cell differentiation, disease mechanisms and applications for regenerative medicine, drug discovery and toxicitytesting to advance towards patient-benefitting therapies.

Selected Publications: