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Harnessing the power of stem cells to unlock the secrets of motor neuron disease
Date:5/23/2010

-43 mutant gene carrying patients are injurious or protective to motor neurons. In addition, experiments growing motor neurons and support cells from different donors in the same dish (a process called 'co-culture') will address whether this disease spread seen in the human condition can be reproduced in the laboratory.

The programme has three components:

  • Stage 1: Create high-yield, high quality populations of motor neurons and support cells from skin cells
  • Stage 2: Establish a laboratory model of motor neurons and support cells, to characterise their behaviour in physiological (normal) conditions and under conditions of cell stress
  • Stage 3: Examine how genes are switched on and off within the cells, in an attempt to identify 'gene expression signatures' associated with motor neuron disease.

The researchers

Prof Siddharthan Chandran from the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research at the University of Edinburgh; Prof Sir Ian Wilmut at the Medial Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh; Prof Christopher Shaw at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London; and Prof Tom Maniatis of Columbia University New York will all be working on various components of this three stage programme. (For further information on the three-stage programme please see the background briefing paper.)

Prof Siddharthan Chandran, the programme's principal investigator, will be working with Prof Sir Ian Wilmut to refine and optimise the reprogramming procedure to ensure as many healthy cells as possible can be generated.

He says: "Bringing together the genetic revolution of the last decade with the spectacular progress in stem cell research means we can now model human disease in a dish."

Prof Sir Ian Wilmut adds: "This funding from the MND Association will help us to understand why specific nerves die in motor neuron disease. This is a critical next step towards
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Contact: Louise Coxon
louise.coxon@mndassociation.org
44-776-076-5142
University of Edinburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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