Tag Archives: stem cells

Searching for Autism in our Social Brain

All animals need to know and communicate with their own, so evolution has developed in every brain the ways we all recognize and socialize with each other.

But while other brains are social – no other brain is as social, or can do what the human brain can – and as far as science knows – it also seems that no other brain can suffer from conditions like autism. Are these two fortunes somehow linked?

That is a question that many are asking, including Alysson Muotri’s lab at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. They are using brain organoids to unravel this mystery, but where do they start looking for the root causes of these conditions?

Enter Katerina Semendeferi, noted biological anthropologist, whose experience conducting neuroanatomical comparisons of our primate predecessors, as well as typical and atypical human neuroanatomy, is helping to focus the search for causes of atypical behavioral conditions like autism and Williams Syndrome. Her work has pointed to neuroanatomical differences, on scales from whole brain structures, down to individual neurons and the genetics of neurodevelopment.

She reveals what she has found, and how this helps the Muotri Lab’s studies with brain organoids in the search for autism in our social brains.

Watch — Searching for Autism in our Social Brain.

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Aicardi-Goutieres: A Rare Disorder, A Unique Look into the Brain

8232Using brains-in-a-dish (cortical organoids), the Muotri Lab at UC San Diego has developed a new treatment for Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome. This study not only identified the underlying mechanisms that drive AGS but has also led to surprising revelations about neuroinflammation. Learn how they repurposed HIV antiretroviral drugs to rescue mutated cells and what this research means for studying other neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

Watch: Reconstructing the Brain in a Dish: Emergence of Neuroinflammation from Retrotransposons

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Stem Cells and the Future of Medicine

There’s a lot of talk about the promise of stem cells, but do you really understand what’s getting researchers so excited?

Well, now’s your chance to learn from the man who literally wrote the book on it, Lawrence Goldstein, Director of UC San Diego’s Stem Cell Program, and author of “Stem Cells for Dummies” (so you know you can handle it).

In “Stem Cells and the Future of Medicine,” Dr. Goldstein shares the basic principles of stem cells and examines the promise they offer and how they can be safely and effectively employed.

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