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Research by Topic: Stem Cell
Researchers have coaxed human stem cells to develop into simplified mini-brains, with regions resembling discrete brain structures, reported in the journal Nature. A spinning culture system prods stem cells to develop into neurons in three dimensions. The culture system is a gelatinous protein-rich mixture that provides both the structural support and nutrients required for neuronal development. Already, the researchers have shown that these artificial brains may model human disorders better than real mouse brains do.
Researchers have optimized the production from stem cells of large numbers of a subtype of neurons involved in cognitive function. These neurons express the chemical messenger glutamate and are implicated in cognitive disorders such as autism. This technique, published in Translational Psychiatry, could generate enough neurons for large-scale screening of drugs.
Stem Cell Research Focusing on Autisms Genetic Mysteries Earns $2.125 Million Grant at Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolPublished February 12, 2013 in Newswise
Sutter Neuroscience Institute and CBR (Cord Blood Registry) are launching the first FDA-approved clinical trial to assess the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells to treat select patients with autism.
Derivation of Autism Spectrum Disorder-specific Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear CellsPublished May 10, 2012 in Neuroscience Letters
“Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold tremendous potential both as a biological tool to uncover the pathophysiology of disease by creating relevant cell models and as a source of stem cells for cell-based therapeutic applications. Typically, iPSCs have been derived by the transgenic overexpression of transcription factors associated with progenitor cell or stem cell function in fibroblasts derived from skin biopsies. However, the need for skin punch biopsies to derive fibroblasts for reprogramming can present a barrier to study participation among certain populations of individuals, including children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In addition, the acquisition of skin punch biopsies in non-clinic settings presents a challenge. One potential mechanism to avoid these limitations would be the use of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) as the source of the cells for reprogramming. In this article we describe, for the first time, the derivation of iPSC lines from PBMCs isolated from the whole blood of autistic children, and their subsequent differentiation in GABAergic neurons.”
Director of the NIMH Dr. Tom Insel shares the NIMH’s Top 10 Research Advances for 2011.
Researchers at the University of California at San Diego established procedures for the induced differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells into forebrain neurons that are capable of forming synaptic connections—communicating messages. The cells containing autism-associated mutations were not able to induce presynaptic differentiation in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived […]
A collaborative effort between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, San Diego, successfully used human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from patients with Rett syndrome to replicate autism in the lab and study the molecular pathogenesis of the disease.
A team from the University of California, San Diego, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies devised a way to study brain cells from patients with autism, and found a way reverse cellular abnormalities in neurons that have been associated with autism, specifically Rett Syndrome.
A Model for Neural Development and Treatment of Rett Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem CellsPublished November 1, 2010 in Cell, Marchetto et al
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases in which different combinations of genetic mutations may contribute to the phenotype. Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an ASD genetic model, we recapitulate early stages of a human neurodevelopmental disease, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from RTT patients' fibroblasts, which essentially creates a "disease in a […]
A pregnant woman’s immune response to viral infections may induce subtle neurological changes in the unborn child that can lead to an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia and autism.
Researchers at the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Medical Center have discovered that the two major types of signaling pathways activated during brain cell development. This knowledge may help scientists design new ways to induce the brain to repair itself when these signals are interrupted, and indicate a need for further research to determine whether disruptions of these pathways in early brain development could lead to common neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.
Two University of Iowa biologists have published a paper on how cells make specific interactions during development — in the hope of one day learning more about human developmental disorders.