With a $50,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Clive Svendsen and his team at the University of Wisconsin grew neural stem cells that expressed the Fragile X mutation to help scientists better understand the gene characteristics.
Anita Bhattacharyya, PhD
FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow (2004)
by Katie Clapp , 4/1/2004
Neural stem cells have exciting implications for the potential treatment of many nervous system disorders. Dr. Svendsen, a world-renown expert in stem cell technology, is growing human neurons that express the Fragile X mutation. These stem cells are generating infinite quantities of neurons in cell culture, in the form of neurospheres, balls of neurons which increase in size. These neurons will be characterized in detail to understand the effects of lack of FMRP. The neurons will be made available to the scientific community.
There are essential differences in biology between mice and humans (not to mention the even greater differences between fruit flies and humans) which make these human neurons invaluable tools to advance studies of Fragile X and evaluate potential treatments. Unlike the mouse and fly neurons, in which the Fragile X gene is deleted (knocked out of the genome), these human neurons contain the actual Fragile X genetic mutation, so that therapeutic strategies aimed at reactivating the gene can be explored.