Dr. Biju Chandu is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. He completed his doctoral studies in Neuroscience at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagpur University, India. In 2004 he moved to the Neuroscience Program at Florida State University to do postdoctoral work with Prof. Debra Fadool. Some of his experiments with Prof. Fadool drew his attention to that fact that increasing the levels of certain neurotrophic factors might provide great benefit to people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. To learn more about the impact neurotrophic factors might have on reversing the course of neurodegenerative diseases, he moved to the laboratory of Dr. Senlin Li at the University of Texas Health Science Center. At the Health Science Center Chandu has been collaborating with Dr. Li to develop and test neuroprotective therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases.
Currently, they use bone marrow-derived macrophages as a cellular vehicle to deliver neurotrophic factors to the degenerating neurons. The use of macrophages to deliver neurotrophic factors is particularly attractive, given that these cells are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, after which they differentiate into microglia and are preferentially recruited in large numbers to sites of neurodegeneration. They are also performing experiments to determine whether different kinds of neurotrophic factors have more and less beneficial effects. Extracting bone marrow requires surgery, which may be strenuous or impossible for older patients. To address the issue, they have begun working on generating macrophages using induced pluripotent stem cell technology.