Sleep, Circadian, and Stem Cell Renewal Factors in the Learning Disability of Down Syndrome

Stanford University

Principal Investigators: 

  • Dr. Craig Heller, PhD
  • Dr. Maddalena Adorno, PhD

Target identification and translation studies in a mouse model of DS

The link between circadian rhythm and stem cell renewal in the brain has garnered much attention in recent years. In fact, the discovery of circadian rhythm, or the body’s natural internal clock regulated by light and dark cycles, was awarded the 2017 Nobel prize for Physiology and Medicine.

Using a mouse model, Dr. Craig Heller and colleagues hope to better understand how shifts in circadian rhythm, which may arise from sleep disturbances in people with Down syndrome, may affect the generation of stem cells that are important for brain repair, and function in regions related to memory formation and maintenance. In particular, these researchers are interested in understanding how a specific region of the brain that acts similar to a maestro, setting the rhythmic pace of the circadian clock, may contribute to memory function in a mouse model of Down syndrome.

Using this information, Dr. Heller and colleagues hope to develop therapies to improve learning and memory in people with Down syndrome. Along with their focus on the roles of sleep and circadian rhythms in learning and memory, they are also investigating how certain triplicated genes may additionally influence the continued renewal of these very important neural stem cells. The ultimate goal of this research is to improve the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome to learn, remember, and process new information.

 

Progress

Timeline

Type

Target Life-stage

Mid-stage preclinical
Several years until clinical trials
Target identification in mouse model
Life-long