Maria Pia Cosma
Research and Interests
Dr. Cosma is interested in establishing ways to enhance tissue regeneration in higher vertebrates based on the de-differentiation of somatic cells into pluripotent stem-like cells (reprogramming). She investigates in particular how to reprogram higher vertebrate cells efficiently, the molecular and genetic drivers of somatic cell reprogramming induced by cell fusion, and whether Wnt/β-catenin-dependent reprogramming of fused cells is a mechanism of tissue regeneration in vivo. Her work opens the way to new tools and advances in regenerative medicine, and sheds light on basic mechanisms controlling somatic cell reprogramming.
Expertise and Capabilities
Dr. Cosma is an expert in the field of tissue regeneration and cell reprogramming. She and her group are able to enhance the reprogramming of vertebrate cells in vivo, which subsequently leads to tissue regeneration in response to damage. They have longstanding expertise in retinal tissue regeneration, and are currently exploiting this expertise in different disease areas such as neurodegenerative and liver diseases. Their working model system is mice.
Cosma’s work showing that transplantation of pluripotent cells pre-activated ex-vivo with an activator of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway can functionally rescue blindness in mice models of retinal degeneration is covered by two patent applications, namely: a “Method for reprogramming differentiated cells” (WO2009101084) and a “Method of treatment of retinal degeneration” (EP11176713).
Cosma is also main inventor in a patent application (US 14/482,586) describing a method for determining the "stemness" state of cells, i.e., their degree of pluripotency based on the level of packaging of their nucleosomes. This can prove very useful for cell therapy and research in biomedicine. The technology is available for licensing.
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