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Possible neuromarker for 'juvenile-onset' Batten disease

Date:
January 8, 2024
Source:
University of Rochester Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers find that an easy-to-measure brain process may be a target or biomarker in measuring treatment outcomes in clinical trials in Batten disease.
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Early symptoms can be subtle. A child's personality and behavior may change, and clumsiness or stumbling develops between the ages of five and ten. Over time, cognitive impairment sets in, seizures emerge or worsen, vision loss begins, and motor skills decline. This is the course of Batten disease, a progressive inherited disorder of the nervous system that results from mutations to the CLN3 gene.

"It is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder of childhood," said John Foxe, PhD, director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience and co-director of the University of Rochester Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (UR-IDDRC), "and while it is very rare, it is important to study and understand because it could inform what we know and how we treat it and other related rare diseases."

A possible neuromarker

In a new study, out today in theJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Foxe and a team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center may be closer to that goal of understanding. The paper describes how they measured changes in brain function of participants with CLN3 disease, also known as 'juvenile-onset' Batten disease. Researchers found that the functioning of the auditory sensory memory system -- the brain system required for short-term memory recall -- appears to decrease as the disease progresses. They revealed this by utilizing electroencephalographic recordings (EEG) to measure the brain activity of participants with and without Batten disease as they passively listened to simple auditory beeps. The participants simultaneously watched a video of their favorite movie while the brain responses to these beeps were being measured. In the participants with Batten disease, the EEG revealed a decline in the response from the auditory sensory memory system as the disease progressed. There were no significant changes among the other participants. This finding suggests that this easy-to-measure brain process may be a target or biomarker in measuring treatment outcomes in clinical trials.

"We needed to find a task that did not require explicit engagement or attention, and this is one of those kinds of tasks," Foxe said. "The brain produces the signal that we're looking at, regardless of whether the participant is paying attention to the beeps or not. It is an objective method that provides new insight into the brain function of a population with varying communication abilities."

Leading Batten disease research & treatment

There are 12 currently known childhood-onset forms of Batten disease, each genetically distinct from one another, and all significantly impact neurodevelopment. The University of Rochester Batten Center (URBC) is a recognized leader in research and treatment of this condition. URBC is designated a Center of Excellence by the Batten Disease Support and Research Association (BDSRA). The University is a designated Intellectual and Developmental Research Center (IDDRC), and its current principal project is aimed at neuromarker discovery in Batten disease. With several potential gene therapies for Batten disease currently in advanced stages of development, this recent finding continues the mission at URMC to identify biomarkers to evaluate the effectiveness of these experimental treatments.

Progressing scientific findings

Researchers in the Frederick J. and Marion A. Schindler Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab, where Foxe is co-principal investigator with Edward Freedman, PhD, are using these findings to leverage a Batten disease mouse model. They aim to measure the impact pharmaceuticals have on the auditory perceptual system. Researchers are starting with treatments already on the market for other conditions. "We think this potential biomarker is key to the possibility for us to screen these treatments in the mouse models. The auditory sensory memory marker provides a sensitive measure," Foxe said. "We'll be able to tell you pretty quickly if a treatment is having an impact and know if it is actually changing dynamics -- i.e., whether the system in the brain is improving, what the speed of improvement is, etc. I think that is a big deal."

Additional authors include first author Tufikameni Brima, PhD, Edward Freedman, PhD, Kevin Prinsloo, PhD, Heather Adams, PhD, Kuan Hong Wang, PhD, Luke Shaw, and Emma Mantel of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Erika Augustine, MD, of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Jonathan Mink, MD, PhD. This research is supported by the Schmitt Program in Integrative Neuroscience (SPIN) through the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience pilot program, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center. Original written by Kelsie Smith Hayduk. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tufikameni Brima, Edward G. Freedman, Kevin D. Prinsloo, Erika F. Augustine, Heather R. Adams, Kuan Hong Wang, Jonathan W. Mink, Luke H. Shaw, Emma P. Mantel, John J. Foxe. Assessing the integrity of auditory sensory memory processing in CLN3 disease (Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (Batten disease)): an auditory evoked potential study of the duration-evoked mismatch negativity (MMN). Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2024; 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s11689-023-09515-8

Cite This Page:

University of Rochester Medical Center. "Possible neuromarker for 'juvenile-onset' Batten disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/01/240108125743.htm>.
University of Rochester Medical Center. (2024, January 8). Possible neuromarker for 'juvenile-onset' Batten disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/01/240108125743.htm
University of Rochester Medical Center. "Possible neuromarker for 'juvenile-onset' Batten disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/01/240108125743.htm (accessed February 25, 2024).

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