A Human Stem Cell-Based Model to Study Autism-Linked Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Initial Testing of Therapeutic Strategies

Short Title

Child Health Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University

Project Description

Autism has been linked to mutations in some of the genes that encode for neuronal proteins that enable them to make synaptic connections. In the last decade several genetic abnormalities in two extensively replicated genes, NLGN3 and CNTNAP2, have been reported.

We recently discovered that specific autism related mutations affect the amount of protein that is able to reach the synaptic connections and cause biochemical stress to the neurons, providing evidence for a novel mechanism of autism etiology. Although human neurons from autistic patients are not directly accessible, we now have a technology that can convert patient skin biopsy or blood cells into functional neurons. Given the identification of mutations in the aforementioned genes in individuals with autism, this project is aimed at characterizing the pathogenic role of these mutations in a novel but controlled system to generate human neurons to model the “disease in a dish” and screen novel potential therapeutic agents. We also have the opportunity to test these potential therapeutic agents with neurons generated from selected samples collected from New Jersey residents with autism. The findings will help develop novel biomarkers for effective screening in a larger pool of individuals with autism.

Selection Criteria

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Team Members

Davide Comoletti
Principal Investigator
(732) 235-9466

Contact Info

(732) 235-9466
89 French Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Davide Comoletti Laboratory