JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 31. Day 2 of the XXIV World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics opened with a plenary address to over 300 attendees by Juergen Knoblich, Ph.D., of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Knoblich’s presentation was titled “Modeling Human Brain Development and Disease in Stem-Cell-Derived 3D Organoid Culture.” Dr. Knoblich’s address was followed, later in the morning, by three concurrent scientific sessions: “The Science of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (Part 1),” “Progress in Psychiatric Genetics in China,” and “Clinical Genetic Testing in Psychiatry: Prospects and Challenges.” In his address, Dr. Knoblich first noted a key difference between mouse and primate brain development in that primate brains develop a much larger cerebral cortex and that this is driven by the cortical stem cells undergoing symmetric cell division for a much longer time before switching to asymmetric cell division. Consequently, cortical disease and development cannot be modeled in the mouse and this drove Dr. Knoblich to develop a stem-cell-derived 3D organoid model of a human brain. With this model, he was able to demonstrate neuronal movement from the ventral to the dorsal region. He also gave the example of modeling microcephaly in a human organoid model. The patient was found to have a mutation in the CDK5Rap2 gene and the corresponding gene in fruit flies was known to be involved with centrosomin function.
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