Brain Organoids and Assembloids Are New Models for Elucidating, Treating Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Stanford Medicine research on Timothy syndrome — which predisposes newborns to autism and epilepsy — may extend well beyond the rare genetic disorder to schizophrenia and other conditions.

by Bruce Goldman and Erin Digitale, Senior Science Writers in Stanford Office of Communications
In this 2019 photo, Timothy syndrome patient Holden Hulet, left, rides in a side-by-side ATV driven by his dad, Kelby Hulet, at sand dunes near their home in southern Utah. (Courtesy of the Hulet family)

For a long time, no one understood that Holden Hulet was having seizures. “He would just say ‘I feel tingly, and my vision kind of goes blurry,’” said Holden’s mom, JJ Hulet. “But he couldn’t communicate exactly what was going on.” JJ and Kelby Hulet could see their son was having short spells of incoherent speech, rapid back-and-forth eye movements and odd physical changes. “He’d kind of go — I don’t want to say ‘limp’ because he would stand just fine — but his body would just be in zombie mode,” JJ said. The episodes lasted less than a minute. The parents were puzzled and worried, as they had been many times since Holden was born in 2008 and they learned that their newborn had an extremely rare genetic disease. “I was thinking it was his heart,” Kelby Hulet, Holden’s dad, said.

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