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SONA Webinar - Using human pluripotent stems cells to model obesity in vitro
Obesity and neurodegeneration lead to millions of premature deaths each year and lack broadly effective treatments. Obesity is largely caused by the abnormal function of cell populations in the hypothalamus that regulate appetite. We have developed methods generate human hypothalamic neurons from hPSCs to study how they respond to nutrients and hormones (e.g. leptin) and how disease-associated mutations alter their function. Since human hypothalamic neurons can be produced in large numbers, are functionally responsive, have a human genome that can be readily edited, and are in culture environment that can be readily controlled, there is an unprecedented opportunity to study the genetic and environmental factors underlying obesity. In addition, we are fascinated by the fact that mid-life obesity is a risk factor for dementia later in life, and caloric restriction, exercise, and certain anti-obesity drugs are neuroprotective, suggesting that there are shared mechanisms between obesity and neurodegeneration. Studies of HPSC-derived hypothalamic neurons may help bridge the mechanistic gulf between human genetic data and organismic phenotypes, revealing new therapeutic targets.

Apr 15, 2021 05:00 PM in Johannesburg

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