One year has passed since families from around the world came together for the first-ever Jordan's Guardian Angels family conference in Washington, D.C. In a matter of months, incredible progress has been made in our quest to cure Jordan's Syndrome, a recently-identified mutation on the gene PPP2R5D linked to autism, Alzheimer's, intellectual disabilities and cancer.
Here's a look back at the major milestones we've reached since that first family conference held in August 2017.
The Jordan's Guardian Angels global family has nearly doubled in size, from 35 to now more than 60 families impacted by Jordan's Syndrome.
Jordan's Syndrome is reversible. That was the major conclusion of our international research team in late 2017.
Our team of researchers, scientists and medical investigators held multiple in-person meetings, discussing early discoveries made during initial research. Our team came together in December 2017 in New York City, and again in July 2018 in Denver.
In a milestone moment, the State of California supported our research with a $12 million allocation in the state budget.
The funding will help provide for the first phase of the project, though we must still secure additional resources to take additional steps toward curing Jordan's Syndrome.
The first batch of iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) have been created by the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), and distributed to Rutgers University for duplication and distribution.
The iPSCs were created from blood samples given by our children at the first family conference in Washington, D.C., and will play a critical role in understanding Jordan’s Syndrome – and how it may be reversed, treated or cured.
Our first mouse with a verified PPP2R5D mutation was created in early 2018. Researchers will study mice modeled with the PPP2R5D mutation to better understand how Jordan's Syndrome causes developmental delays, and begin to explore potential ways to treat, reverse or even cure the mutation.
Media outlets from around the world have helped spread awareness about Jordan's Syndrome research – and its potential to help unlock some of the world's greatest medical mysteries. Television stations and newspapers in Sacramento, Houston, Denver, Israel, the United Kingdom and beyond have shared the stories of our families, and the amazing possibilities our research holds.
We’ve arrived at a key early milestone in our research into Jordan’s Syndrome, a recently-discovered genetic mutation in the gene PPP2R5D thought to be linked to autism, Alzheimer’s, intellectual disability and cancer.
The first batch of iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) have been created by the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), and distributed to Rutgers University for duplication and distribution. The iPSCs were created from blood samples given by our children at the first family conference in Washington, D.C., and will play a critical role in understanding Jordan’s Syndrome – and how it may be reversed, treated or cured.
But – how exactly will that happen? And why are iPSCs so important? We asked our friends at the NYSCF to help explain.
How were the iPSCs created?
NYSCF: Scientists create induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, by taking a small amount of blood or skin from a patient, and converting these blood or skin cells into a pluripotent state using genetic signals called reprogramming factors. These pluripotent cells are able to multiply indefinitely and also can be coaxed into turning into any type of cell in the body, making them a unique and powerful research tool.
iPSCs enable scientists to study the cells affected by disease in the lab without harming patients. For example, the iPSC lines we are making in collaboration with Jordan's Guardian Angels will allow researchers to study patient-derived brain cells without brain surgery.
Because Jordan’s Syndrome is a rare disease with only a few dozen known patients worldwide, the stem cell lines we are making will provide a foundational resource for researchers who may not have easy access to patients. These patient-specific iPSC lines will be an invaluable tool for Jordan's Syndrome researchers around the world.
How many were created?
NYSCF: So far, NYSCF scientists have created five iPSC lines using blood samples from five different Jordan’s Syndrome patients. Each of these patients has a unique mutation in the gene implicated in the disease, PPP2R5D. Since the disease is so rare, these 5 lines represent a diverse segment of patients.
In addition to creating iPSC lines from additional patients, we are also planning to use stem cells to study the genetics of Jordan's syndrome. Using cutting-edge gene editing technology, our scientists will introduce PPP2R5D mutations into stem cells from a healthy individual. This 'manufactured disease line' will allow scientists to study the specific effects of disease-causing mutations, without being confounded by other differences between patients and healthy people that may be unrelated to the disease.
How can stem cells be used to find potential breakthrough treatments for Jordan’s Syndrome, and potentially related medical mysteries?
NYSCF: Stem cell technology allows scientists to create the different cell types affected in Jordan's Syndrome as patient-specific models of the disease. Modeling Jordan’s Syndrome in a dish using stem cell technology enables scientists to study how the disease develops in different cell types and affects their behavior over time. For example, scientists can derive patient neurons from stem cells, and even combine different types of patient brain cells into 'mini-brains' known as organoids, to study how brain function and the interactions between different cells are affected in Jordan's Syndrome. By enabling a better understanding of the disease and clarifying the cellular and molecular defects driven by the genetic PPP2R5D mutations, stem cell technology may point to treatments that can fix these defects and therefore alleviate disease symptoms.
Stem cell technology also allows new drugs to be directly tested on affected cells or organoids, to see if they have a beneficial effect. This "clinical trial in a dish" approach can help to identify new treatments that may be helpful for certain patients and ineffective – or even potentially toxic – to others.
The cellular processes that go awry in Jordan's Syndrome may well be playing a role in several other diseases – for example, the gene implicated in Jordan’s syndrome is also associated with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Stem cell technology has already advanced research into neurological diseases and cancer, just as we expect it will in Jordan's syndrome. A better understanding of what goes wrong in Jordan's Syndrome will help us understand how the processes in human development are supposed to work, and offer insights into other ways they go wrong in related diseases. There are mounting examples of rare disease research that have taught us something new about common diseases and how to treat them. So a new way to study the dozens of patients with Jordan's Syndrome could end up advancing knowledge and treatments for diseases that affect millions.
Give some perspective on how revolutionary this kind of science is, and its promise for medicine.
NYSCF: Stem cell research is a very young field. Embryonic stem cells were only first isolated in 1998, and the field drastically changed in 2006 with the development of induced pluripotent stem cells by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, who received the Nobel Prize for this work just six years later. iPSCs made it possible to derive patient-specific cells, fueling the "disease-in-a-dish" and "clinical trial in a dish" research that has never been possible.
So the field has only really been in existence for just over a decade. It is truly the cutting edge of scientific inquiry with new discoveries, tools, and technology published every day. It is such an exciting time to be a stem cell researcher – as well as a disease researcher, because of the opportunities afforded by stem cell technology.
The promise of stem cell research is vast. At some point in our lives, we or the people we love become patients. Traditionally, much disease research and drug discovery have been performed using mouse models. But we are not mice, and to treat diseases more effectively we need to understand how diseases and drugs affect human cells – especially the types of cells involved in the disease. Taking brain cells out of patients to study them in the lab is not usually an option, but stem cell technology makes this type of research possible. The opportunity to create patient-specific stem cell lines has been revolutionary, because each patient is different, in what causes their disease, the way the disease manifests, and how they will respond to drugs. Stem cell research will therefore allow us to understand and treat disease in a more precise and personalized way than ever before possible.
Ultimately, our mission at NYSCF – and the goal in all of our collaborative stem cell projects – is to accelerate research towards cures for all devastating diseases, including Jordan’s Syndrome.
The Jordan’s Guardian Angels research team converged in Denver, Colorado last weekend to collectively discuss the progress made in our quest to reverse, treat or cure Jordan’s Syndrome, a recently-identified mutation in the gene PPP2R5D.
The meeting came shortly after the State of California allocated nearly $12 million in this year’s state budget to help fund our research. Jordan’s Guardian Angels is partnering with the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures to facilitate the distribution of the funding. The Institute is also providing important support in multiple research functions, joining our international team of scientists and geneticists.
“Researchers are working together in a way that I’ve never seen researchers work together and pull together,” said JGA lead medical investigator Dr. Wendy Chung. “We have the best and the brightest in the world being able to think together, and the energy you can feel coming out of this is just exhilarating.”
Substantial milestones have been reached since the last time the research team met in December in New York City. The first collection of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), created from blood samples given by children impacted by Jordan’s Syndrome, were produced and distributed by the New York Stem Cell Foundation and Rutgers University.
“The iPSCs are useful to study how the PPP2R5D variants affect cell behavior,” said JGA researcher Dr. Richard Honkanen. “These studies will help us understand what is different in the variant cells versus normal cells. Finding out what is wrong represents the first step in the development of a potential cure.”
Several mouse models have also been created, so researchers can further study the impacts and causes of Jordan’s Syndrome. Our medical team also provided detailed updates regarding newly-produced clinical data, shedding further light on the genetic mutation and its specific variants. More than 60 people have now been diagnosed with Jordan’s Syndrome worldwide, though it’s believed there could be hundreds of thousands of undiagnosed cases.
“The amount of work that’s been done in the first year is pretty amazing,” said Jordan’s Guardian Angels co-founder Joe Lang. “10 years ago, it would’ve taken 10 years to get that first year’s work done. That’s how fast it’s moving.”
In the days and weeks following the Denver workshop, our researchers will develop a plan plotting a broad course of the study over the next three years. Momentum continues to build toward reaching our goal of treating or reversing Jordan’s Syndrome. The genetic mutation is also believed to be linked to – and may bring breakthroughs for – autism, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
July 23, 2018
In a few short months, major progress has already been made in our quest to find a cure for Jordan’s Syndrome!
The international Jordan’s Guardian Angels research team, composed of the best and brightest researchers in their respective fields, converged in New York City in early December. They relayed significant early findings in our study seeking treatments for a recently-discovered variation in the gene PPP2R5D, known as Jordan’s Syndrome.
"We’re just beginning, but what we’re hearing so far is so exciting – and promising."
While much of the information described in the researchers’ presentations to the group was highly technical, it’s clear our team has made initial headway in understanding how the PPP2R5D gene functions, how the variation operates, its impacts, and potentially, how to fix it. We’re just beginning, but what we’re hearing so far is so exciting – and promising. Click here to review the symposium agenda.
There is positive news on another front: Joe Lang, the co-founder of Jordan’s Guardian Angels, reported progress in the fundraising efforts he’s leading. It goes without saying, but we’re so incredibly grateful for the generosity so many are showing to make this study a possibility.
Finally, check out our “Meet the Research Team” page and click on each researcher’s picture to watch new interviews we taped at the NYC symposium. We thought you all might want to hear directly from the researchers about why this study is so promising, and what personally motivates them to discover the cure.
Are you out there?
If your loved one received a PPP2R5D diagnosis, we're here to provide support and hope. Please join our worldwide movement to find answers to Jordan's Syndrome. Watch the video below to learn a little more about who we are and how we can help – then call us, text us, or e-mail us!
The first tangible signs of progress are here! Five blood samples collected from the Washington, D.C. conference have been successfully reprogrammed as undifferentiated cells, and are on their way to becoming brain cells.
What does that mean, exactly? These brain cells will carry the PPP2R5D variation – Jordan's Syndrome – and will allow the researchers to study the variation and its impact on the brain. This is the very first step in that process. Blood samples were collected from the Washington D.C. conference attendees from each of the children diagnosed with Jordan's Syndrome as well as their parents.
"A subset of the [blood] samples were sent to the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) to be transformed into essentially little brains in a dish."
Some of the samples were sent to Rutgers for processing and to be studied as part of the PPP2R5D research. A subset of the samples were sent to the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) to be transformed into essentially little brains in a dish.
Some info about stem cells: https://nyscf.org/stem-cell-basics/what-are-stem-cells/
The samples received at NYSCF have been successfully reprogrammed and are on their way to be converted to brain cells. We expect full conversion and readiness to distribute to the research team by early next year.
For reference, this would be the first 3 steps shown in the research diagram on the last page of the PPP2R5D study prospectus. This is cutting edge technology that we are fortunate to be taking part in. Science in this field has come a long way in the past 5 years making these steps in the research possible.
Additional skin samples will be collected from families to create additional neurons at UC-Davis.
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