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NF1 stem cell research study

02 March 2022

Children with NF1 are more likely than others to have difficulties related to autism spectrum disorder but we don’t know why.

My research, as a PhD student at the University of Manchester, is hoping to uncover some hidden clues as to what may be happening during human brain development in those with NF1.

Together with Prof. Susan J Kimber and Dr. Shruti Garg (my supervisors), we have been growing brain cells (neurons) in a dish to try and find out what is unique about cells with NF1 and those without.

To do this, we have taken blood cells from children with NF1 and Autism, as well as their unaffected relatives, and transformed them into special cells known as ‘induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)’.

These are stem cells that hold the potential to turn into any cell from the body. By adding certain chemical cues in the food of these cells, we are able to successfully guide them through early brain development. It is important to note that these are very immature cells, that do not have a conscience nor the capacity to think.

Currently, we are trying to find out how the brain development in NF1 may be different to those who do not have NF1.

We have focused this project on very early stages of brain development. Early results are suggesting that some, but not all, NF1 neurons grow differently to unaffected neurons, and this may change the way these cells talk to each other. But, a lot more research is required to fully decipher this puzzle.

We hope that by understanding how these cells develop differently to cells without NF1, we will be able to identify new treatments for NF1 related cognitive and behaviour problems. This research may also help uncover more general clues about autism spectrum disorder itself.

I would like to thank the Medical Research Council for funding this work. If you would like to contact me with any further questions, please email me at: Julieta.oflaherty@manchester.ac.uk

NF2 Working Together: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

NF1 Working Together Part 2: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

NF1 Working Together Part 1: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding  the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

Masterclasses in NF: Surgery in NF2 - Michel Kalamarides & Andrew King

Masterclasses in NF: Surgery in NF2

Michel Kalamarides, MD, PhD, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière , Paris, France

Prof Andrew King, MBBS FRCS FRCS(SN), Salford Royal Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK

Masterclasses in NF: Cognition and Behaviour in NF1: Phenotype and Treatment Approaches - Shruti Garg, Andre Rietman

Masterclasses in NF: Cognition and Behaviour in NF1: Phenotype and Treatment Approaches

Dr Shruti Garg, MBBS, MRCPsych, MMedSci, PhD, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK

Andre Rietman, PhD, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Masterclasses in NF: Emotional Challenges in NF1, NF2 and Schwannomatosis - Susie Henley, Thomas Pletschko & Verena Rosenmayr

Masterclasses in NF: Emotional Challenges in NF1, NF2 and Schwannomatosis

Susie Henley, DClinPsy, PhD, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London UK

Thomas Pletschko, PhD, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Verena Rosenmayr, Clinical Psychologist, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pediatric Management - Rianne Oostenbrink

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pediatric Management

Rianne Oostenbrink, MD, PhD, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Masterclasses in NF: Associated Glioma in Children - the Optic Pathway and Beyond - Amedeo Azizi

Masterclasses in NF: Associated Glioma in Children - the Optic Pathway and Beyond

Amedeo Azizi, MD, PhD, Head of the Paediatric Neurofibromatosis Program and Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Program, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Orthopedic Manifestations - Eric Legius and Christophe Glorion

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Orthopedic Manifestations

Eric Legius, MD, PhD. Head of Clinical Genetics Department of the University Hospital Leuven, Belgium

Christophe Glorion, MD, PhD, Department of Paediatric Orthopedic and Traumatologic Surgery, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France. 

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumours - Rosalie Ferner and Viktor-Felix Mautner

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumours

Prof Rosalie Ferner, Consultant Neurologist and Lead Clinician for Neurofibromatosis, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK and Trustee of Nerve Tumours UK

Viktor-Felix Mautner, MD, PhD. University Medical Centre in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Head of NF Outpatient Department

Masterclasses in NF - Neurofibromatosis Type 1: Cutaneous Neurofibromas - Pierre Wolkenstein and Sirkku Peltonen

Masterclasses in NF - Neurofibromatosis Type 1: Cutaneous Neurofibromas

Pierre Wolkenstein, MD, PhD. Hopital Henri-Mondor, Paris, France. Head of the Department of Dermatology

Sirkku Peltonen MD, PhD. University of Gothenberg, Sweden. Professor of Dermatology

INFER (International NF Educational Resources) is a series of online educational lectures for medical professionals by leading neurofibromatosis experts. The Masterclasses take place online approximately once a month, each on a different topic, and include real-time interaction between the expert presenter and the participants. The presentations are conducted in English, with real-time audio interpretation available in 6 additional languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. A recording of each INFER masterclass is then be made available online in each language for those who could not attend an event. INFER is an initiative of Children’s Tumor Foundation Europe, supported by an educational grant from AstraZeneca. https://ctfeurope.org/research/masterclasses-in-nf

BPNA Keynote Lecture - Prof Rosalie Ferner - Neurofibromatosis 1 in the 21st Century

‘Neurofibromatosis 1 in the 21st Century’

Keynote Lecture at the 48th British Paediatric Neurology Association Annual Scientific Meeting on 21st January 2022

Prof Rosalie Ferner, Consultant Neurologist and Lead Clinician for Neurofibromatosis, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK and Trustee of Nerve Tumours UK