New Study Proposed for “Creating an in vitro model of HSAN1 in which to study disease mechanisms and potential treatments.” By John K. Fink, M.D. Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan
Our objective is to grow nerve cells (neurons) from individuals with HSAN1 in the laboratory (“in vitro”). We want to examine these neurons for patterns of nerve degeneration, and importantly, use these cultures to screen chemicals to find potential treatments. Our approach is to obtain superficial skin biopsies (3 millimeter diameter) from individuals with HSAN1 (and from normal control subjects), grow skin fibroblasts, and transform these fibroblasts into adult stem cells. We then differentiate these stem cells into neurons and study molecular mechanisms of degeneration and treatment approaches. Once developed, stem cells from HSAN1 subjects will serve as an important resource that can be distributed to other investigators so that studies into mechanisms and treatments for HSAN1 can proceed simultaneously in many laboratories. Our studies are approved by the University of Michigan Institutional Review Board.