PI Vivi Heine receives a grant EU Joint Program on Rare Diseases

19 May 2020

More than 1.2 million euros for stem cell research into neuronal abnormalities in white matter disorders

Associate professor at the CTG Dr. Vivi Heine receives a grant from the EU Joint Program on Rare Diseases (EJP RD). The grant is part of the transnational call which. The aim of enable scientists in different countries to build an effective collaboration on a common interdisciplinary research project. Heine receives this grant of more than 1.2 million euros together with four leading European laboratories in the field of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and functional analysis of neuronal activity. The research project called NG4Leuko will explore complex neuron-glia interactions in the brains of patients with white matter disorders.

Recent insights suggest that in addition to white matter and myelin, nerve cells (also called gray matter) and their processes (axons) are damaged in patients with various white matter disorders. The research of Heine and her colleagues will focus specifically on the involvement of these nerve cells in white matter abnormalities in patients. An innovative approach will be used: modern – OMICS and functional activity measurements will be combined with advanced 2D and 3D iPSC and organoid models.

Pediatric neurologist Dr. Nicole Wolf is closely involved in the research and indicates: “This project represents a huge step forward for patients with 4H leukodystrophy, as there is no animal model for this rare genetic disease.”