iPSC modeling of rare pediatric disorders

Bethany A. Freel, Jordan N. Sheets, Kevin R. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Discerning the underlying pathological mechanisms and the identification of therapeutic strategies to treat individuals affected with rare neurological diseases has proven challenging due to a host of factors. For instance, rare diseases affecting the nervous system are inherently lacking in appropriate patient sample availability compared to more common diseases, while animal models often do not accurately recapitulate specific disease phenotypes. These challenges impede research that may otherwise illuminate aspects of disease initiation and progression, leading to the ultimate identification of potential therapeutics. The establishment of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as a human cellular model with defined genetics has provided the unique opportunity to study rare diseases within a controlled environment. iPSC models enable researchers to define mutational effects on specific cell types and signaling pathways within increasingly complex systems. Among rare diseases, pediatric diseases affecting neurodevelopment and neurological function highlight the critical need for iPSC-based disease modeling due to the inherent difficulty associated with collecting human neural tissue and the complexity of the mammalian nervous system. Rare neurodevelopmental disorders are therefore ideal candidates for utilization of iPSC-based in vitro studies. In this review, we address both the state of the iPSC field in the context of their utility and limitations for neurodevelopmental studies, as well as speculating about the future applications and unmet uses for iPSCs in rare diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108533
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Feb 15 2020


  • Disease modeling
  • Embryonic
  • Induced pluripotent stem cell
  • Neural differentiation
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Pluripotency
  • Rare disease
  • Reprogramming
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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