Validating the Baboon as a Model for Translational Stem Cell Research
Stem cell-based therapies have the potential to dramatically improve the treatment and prognosis of patients by restoring cell or tissue function. Yet, the advancement of stem cell-based therapies is largely impeded by the inability of stem cell therapies to translate from typical model organisms (e.g. rodents) into human patients and retain their therapeutic qualities. The absence of a model that can accurately mimic the human system in vivo represents a significant gap in our experimental knowledge that currently limits the translational potential of stem cell technologies to the clinical environment. Baboons have a high degree of genetic similarity to humans, are partially bipedal, and are similar to humans anatomically, immunologically, and developmentally. Therefore, this proposal seeks to validate the baboon as a clinically relevant nonhuman primate model that can be used to increase our understanding of the efficacy and safety of stem cell-based therapies. As a critical first step, our proposed studies will establish the degree of similarity between pluripotent stem cells of baboons and humans. We hypothesize that validation of the baboon as a uniquely relevant model for stem cell-based therapies will accelerate the process of translating stem cell-based therapies to the clinic.