Phenotyping Human Astrocytes in Health and Disease

Phenotyping Human Astrocytes in Health and Disease

Funding Type: 
Basic Biology IV
Grant Number: 
RB4-06041
Award Value: 
$0
Status: 
Terminated
Public Abstract: 
An emerging theme from recent research is that autism and schizophrenia are diseases of synapses, the interconnections through which electrical signals are relayed from one neuron to the next neuron in a neural circuit. Up to now, most research has focused on new therapeutics that would target neurons and enhance the number of function of synapses in these diseases. However, recent research has shown that the supporting cells of the brain called astrocytes may represent exciting new therapeutic targets. Long thought to be primarily passive support cells, recent studies have established that astrocytes secrete signals that powerfully stimulate the formation and function of synapses throughout the brain. In this proposal, we will take advantage of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to study the ability of astrocytes derived from iPSCs from patients who have autism and schizophrenia. We will also generate new methods to more quickly generate human astrocytes from iPSCs. These studies have the potential to shed new light on the basis of autism and schizophrenia in humans, and to generate new methods and drug testing platforms for human astrocyte generation from iPSCs.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and schizophrenia affect many Californians. An emerging theme from recent research is that autism and schizophrenia are diseases of synapses, the interconnections through which electrical signals are relayed from one neuron to the next neuron in a neural circuit. Up to now, most research has focused on new therapeutics that would target neurons and enhance the number of function of synapses in these diseases. However, recent research has shown that the supporting cells of the brain called astrocytes may represent exciting new therapeutic targets. Long thought to be primarily passive support cells, recent studies have established that astrocytes secrete signals that powerfully stimulate the formation and function of synapses throughout the brain. In this proposal, we will take advantage of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to study the ability of astrocytes derived from iPSCs from patients who have autism and schizophrenia. We will also generate new methods to more quickly generate human astrocytes from iPSCs. These studies have the potential to shed new light on the basis of autism and schizophrenia in humans, to generate new methods and drug testing platforms for human astrocyte generation from iPSCs, which ultimately are critical to help lead to new therapeutics for patients suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine