# Sarka Lehtonen

Field of science
I am a senior researcher actively using patients derived pluripotent stem cells for disease modeling and drug target discoveries.  My focus in recent years has been to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases, especially Parkinsons disease. We use patient-derived brain cells in 2D and 3D culture systems to mimic more accurately the pathological conditions in the diseased brain. We also center our efforts on deciphering mechanisms and discovering biomarkers for psychopathy. As the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the ability of drugs to cross the BBB and reach the correct target is critical when designing drugs for neurological diseases, our third aim is to establish a simple model that mimics the physiological architecture and the barrier properties of the BBB. Once created, the ability of novel drugs and biomolecules like extracellular vesicles to penetrate the BBB can be tested. In addition, the model can be used to understand the molecular and transport mechanisms which regulate BBB permeability in physiological and pathological conditions. Gained knowledge and novel discoveries will open in the future new opportunities for therapeutic developments.