Aim of the project

In this recently developed area of science, samples of hair will be taken from autistic people as well as controls to produce induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These will be grown into cortical neurons (brain cells) and investigated further at different stages of development.

The researchers will measure the structural and morphological characteristics of these neurons (such as dendritic spine density, neuronal migration and outgrowth) as well as their functional properties (for instance spontaneous neuronal firing). 

Further, the epigenetic markers of the brain cells will be studied to see whether there are differences in gene expression between the cells that were grown from the samples given by an autistic person or the non-autistic person.

Importance of research

Using this highly experimental area of science to study iPSC-derived cortical neurons gives us insights into mechanisms of atypical neuronal wiring and the pathophysiology of autism. The identification of differences in gene expression will deepen our understanding of autism etiology, which correlates to the gene sequencing project.  The results may provide biomarkers for autism, which could lead to earlier diagnosis.

Scientists involved

  • Arkoprovo Paul
  • Aicha Massrali

Key findings

The iPSC have been grown in the laboratory and the morphological and functional studies are being carried out.  Data expected Q3 2018.