NEW YORK - Stem cells need a "home" to survive. That home is called a niche.
"if you remove the stem cell from the niche, they don't have their special properties anymore," said Dr. Erika Bach, who leads a team of researchers at NYU Langone Health.
Bach's lab studies those special properties of stem cells and the impact they can have in treating diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, various cancers, and others.
"A doctor can actually best help a patient if they have a really fundamental thorough knowledge of how the disease happens and we can only get important information like this through very basic research," Bach said.
What makes the Bach lab's work even more groundbreaking is that they've traded Petri dishes for testing on bio-systems with close similarities to humans—in this case, the fruit fly.
"Importantly, 70% of human disease genes have counterparts in flies so that's another reason that they are a very good model," Bach said.
The lab's data is shared with industry colleagues like Dr. Christopher Park, who treats patients who can benefit from the research.
"We know that a lot of the diseases with really devastating consequences for patients. We have therapies for patients but they are really sub-optimal," Park said. "So the idea would be that if we could bring some of these new therapies, we might be able to make dramatic improvements in how their loved ones do with respect to the diseases and improve the quality of life."