Our brain is complex and it is perhaps not surprising that things can easily go wrong during development or as we age. Human brain diseases are however often difficult to study in mice. In my laboratory we turn skin cells donated by patients into stem cells that can make every cell type of the brain. Human mini-brains generated from these cells show spontaneous electrical brain activity and tell-tale signs of diseases such as Alzheimers or childhood neuropathies. Now we can study the development of the human brain in detail, pinpoint which cell types and processes underlie a particular disease, correct genetic defects, and screen for novel therapies in the dish.
Prof Wolvetang obtained his PhD from the University of Amsterdam and subsequently helped pioneer human embryonic stem cell research in Australia. In 2009 He took up a group leader position at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland. His laboratory employs induced pluripotent stem cells as in vitro disease models and genome editing to interrogate the underlying gene regulatory networks and epigenetic bases of monogenic and complex neurological diseases. He leads “Cell reprogramming Australia”, was awarded the 2014 LSQ regenerative medicine prize and is a principal investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence “Stem Cells Australia”. His life goal is to help find cures for common (e.g Alzheimers disease) and rare (e.g childhood leukoencephalopathies) brain disorders.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx