Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Stemina, Children's Hospital of Orange County to Study Brain Cells of Autistic Children

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Stemina Biomarker Discovery today announced an agreement with Children's Hospital of Orange County to use its biomarker discovery platform to conduct a study of neural cells from autistic patients.

Stemina will study brain cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells created from patients with autism, compared to the same cells from age-matched children without autism. The iPS cells are made from skin cells that have been reprogrammed to a pluripotent state and so can be differentiated into almost any cell type, including brain cells.

Elizabeth Donley, CEO of Stemina, said in a statement that this method of making neural cells from iPS cells will offer new ways of studying differences in the biochemistry of the brains of autistic children. "Our goal is to create a diagnostic tool for screening for autism, which will allow earlier intervention and therapy, which we know can make a difference in the quality of life and achievement of autistic kids," she said.

The work continues that of Gabriela Cezar, a co-founder of Stemina, on post-mortem brain tissue of autistic patients. Her work conducted at the University of Wisconsin was able to distinguish important small-molecule differences in the brains of autistic children from the brains of children without autism. Obtaining post-mortem samples in numbers that are significant enough to allow for the study of the variability among patients with autism is a challenge, however.

"The iPS cell bank at CHOC offers an opportunity to select the patients and to compare different types of patients, which is not possible in the case of post-mortem brains," Cezar said.

Stemina, based in Madison, Wis., was founded in 2007 and develops metabolomic biomarkers for disease detection and drug screening. CHOC received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to generate, investigate, and store neural stems cells derived from iPS cells from skin cells donated by autistic children.

The Scan

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.

Seagull Microbiome Altered by Microplastic Exposure

The overall diversity and the composition at gut microbiome sites appear to coincide with microplastic exposure and ingestion in two wild bird species, according to a new Nature Ecology and Evolution study.

Study Traces Bladder Cancer Risk Contributors in Organ Transplant Recipients

In eLife, genome and transcriptome sequencing reveal mutation signatures, recurrent somatic mutations, and risky virus sequences in bladder cancers occurring in transplant recipients.

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.