NSU Cell Therapy Institute

An International Biomedical Research Alliance Committed to Curing Disease

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is at the forefront of conducting pioneering biomedical research with the launch of its soon-to-be-completed, 215,000 sq. ft. Center for Collaborative Research (CCR), one of the largest and most advanced research facilities in Florida with state-of-the-art laboratories. The CCR will be home to a diverse group of accomplished physician-scientists and basic science researchers, representing many interdisciplinary sciences. As part of its bold new research mission, the university has launched the NSU Cell Therapy Institute, a unique collaboration with leading medical research scientists from Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institutet (KI). KI is globally recognized for its Nobel Assembly, which awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine annually.

Mission: The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is dedicated to the discovery and development of innovative translational biomedical research, focused on the potential of cell-based therapies to prevent, treat and cure life-threatening and debilitating diseases. The Institute is accelerating the advancement of next-generation approaches to precision medicine such as targeted immunotherapy and regenerative medicine with an initial focus on treating cancers, heart disease and disorders causing blindness. The Institute is prioritizing establishing collaborations with other world-class universities, hospitals, research institutions and corporate partners.

About Karolinska Institutet

Karoliska Institutet logoWith an overriding mission to contribute to the improvement of human health through research and education, Karolinska Institutet provides more than 40% of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country ́s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences.  Many of the discoveries made at Karolinska Institutet have been of great significance, including the pacemaker, the gamma knife, the sedimentation reaction, the Seldinger technique and the preparation of chemically pure insulin. Since 1901, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

NSU Cell Therapy Institute: Disease-Targeting Research Programs

Harnessing the Power of Natural Killer Cells to Target Cancers

Research Team: Evren Alici, M.D., Ph.D.; Adil Duru, Ph.D.; Carin Dahlberg, Ph.D.
Summary: Natural killer cells (NK-cells) are cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. Discovered at Karolinska Institutet in 1974, NK-cells hold the potential to be “programmed” to selectively bind to and destroy tumor cells with very few side-effects.  Preliminary human studies are encouraging in targeting multiple myeloma, a deadly form of blood cancer. New studies will be advanced at the NSU Cell Therapy Institute, including investigating novel approaches harnessing the potency of NK-cells against a broad range of difficult-to-treat cancers.

Enhancing Targeted Immune Response to Eradicate Tumors

Research Team: Andreas Lundqvist, Ph.D.; Shannon Murray, Ph.D.
Summary:  Cancer can employ multiple defense mechanisms to suppress the immune system and avoid detection.  For example, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) can be used by cancer cells to down-regulate the immune system and diminish the cancer killing capabilities of T-cells, NK-cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and other immune responses. The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is advancing novel anti-MDSC approaches to overcome suppression defenses while recruiting targeted immune responses by both NK-cells and T-cells, as potential monotherapy or in combination with other anti-cancer treatments for malignant melanoma and kidney cancer.

Dr Thomas Temple Dr Richard Jove Cancer Stem Cells and Bone Regeneration

Research Team: Richard Jove, Ph.D.; Thomas Temple, M.D.
Summary:  While standard cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation can destroy many kinds of cancers, cancer stem cells possess the ability to escape, survive and metastasize to distant sites in the body. These cells typically develop into new tumors, destroy normal tissues such as bone and are often resistant to most therapies.  The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is advancing novel approaches to modulating signaling pathways, such as JAK/STAT, which are critical to cancer stem cell survival and regeneration of normal tissue. By inhibiting cancer stem cell pathways, cancer recurrence may be eliminated, resulting in durable remissions.  Conversely, activating these same pathways can enhance regeneration of damaged normal tissues including bone.

Restoring Healthy Heart Function with Cardiac Stem Cells

Research Team: Karl-Henrik Grinnemo, M.D., Ph.D.; Vladimir Beljanski, Ph.D.
Summary:  There are currently no available options to repair vital heart muscle and tissue following a heart attack, and heart transplantation is a highly limited option. The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is developing novel culturing systems to produce pure populations of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and at the same time activate cardiac progenitor cell differentiation. These activated cardiac MSCs can be differentiated into three types of cardiac cells: cardiomyocytes; endothelial cells; and smooth muscle cells. The ability of these cells to regenerate the damaged myocardium, while at the same time possessing traits that prevent immune rejection and inflammatory response, makes this a highly promising approach to restoring healthy heart function.

Regenerative Approaches to Heart Valve Disease

Research Team: Cecilia Osterholm Corbascio, PhD; Vladimir Beljanski, Ph.D.
Summary: Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide, yet the mechanisms of this process remain largely unknown. Furthermore, the properties of currently used bioprosthetic valves lead to valve degeneration and subsequent heart failure. A regenerative approach would allow for the generation of new heart valves by combining the patient’s own stem cells with a biological matrix not prone to immunologically mediated deterioration. The focus of this research at NSU will be to study valvular heart disease from decoding mechanistic pathways to creating new valves from the patient’s own stem cells.

Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Degeneration

Research Team: Outi Hovata, M.D., Ph.D.; Ben Josey, Ph.D.
Summary:  Macular Degeneration (MD - dry & wet forms) is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans aged 60 or older. The dry form of the disease affects 90-95% of sufferers and causes vision loss in the center of a patient’s field of vision due to deterioration of the macula which is in the center of the retina. The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is developing a novel approach to cure dry MD by transplanting human stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial cell (RPE cells). This approach targets dry MD by replacing the degenerating, damaged cells in the eye with healthy RPE cells to restore full function and vision. Immune rejection has been a major impediment in such transplant techniques, so this program is developing differentiated RPE cells combined with technology that induces transplant tolerance, eliminating the need for chronic immunosuppression.

NSU Cell Therapy Institute: Supporting Core Laboratories

The NSU Cell Therapy Institute offers cutting-edge molecular and cellular profiling analyses to support its research programs, and those of its collaborative partners, with the highest quality of comprehensive scientific resources, facilities and staff, including in the areas of:

Investing in a Healthy Future: Venture Philanthropy & Partnering

Philanthropy, sponsored research and other key collaborative partnerships play a critical role in the NSU Cell Therapy Institute’s mission to impact the understanding, prevention, and treatment of a broad range of life-threatening and debilitating diseases. The NSU Cell Therapy Institute offers many kinds of sponsorship and partnering options for individual donors, foundations, and corporations in order to accelerate next-generation cures to patients in urgent need. 

For more information about the NSU Cell Therapy Institute, please contact:

Douglas W. Calder
Director of Development & Strategic Planning
NSU Cell Therapy Institute
3301 College Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
Phone: (954) 262-3382
Mobile: (772) 418-6302
Email: dcalder@nova.edu