Neurological disorders ranging from migraine and epilepsy to autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease are affecting an increasingly larger percentage of the world’s population. Current treatments and therapies poorly manage symptoms and are rarely disease-modifying thus represent a significant unmet clinical need. Much of the difficulty in developing new treatments lies in the poor understanding of the underlying biology leading to these disorders. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are derived from adult somatic cells that, through genetic manipulation, have been reprogrammed to resemble embryonic pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells have the unique property of unlimited proliferation in the undifferentiated state while retaining the ability to differentiate into terminal cell types, including neurons, when cultured appropriately. iPSCs from patients with neurological disorders offer the unprecedented opportunity to generate and study viable neurons that are potentially representative of the disease state. In this half day symposium, leaders in the field will discuss the generation of patient-specific iPSCs, their differentiation into neurons, and the search for disease-associated phenotypes. Investigators will highlight important issues regarding patient consent, choice of controls, and technical challenges, associated with this powerful technology that allows us to fill the gap between studies in humans and animals models in order to make breakthroughs for neurologic and psychiatric diseases.
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