Disputation: Martin Falck

Doctoral candidate Martin Falck at the Department of Biosciences will be defending the thesis "Differentiation of human embryonic stem cells towards neural progenitor cells to study the effect of paracetamol on prenatal brain development" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Profile picture of Martin Falck

Martin Falck. Photo: UiO.

The disputation will be live streamed using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: The chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking "Participants" followed by clicking "Raise hand". 

The meeting opens for participation just before 1.15 PM, and closes for new participants approximately 15 minutes after the defense has begun.

Trial lecture

Time and place: Nov. 16th, 2020 10:15 AM,  Zoom

"Human brain organoids in disease modelling and drug development"

Main research findings

Paracetamol is the most used painkiller in pregnancy and is generally considered safe. However, in the last decade, several large studies demonstrated a connection between long-term use of paracetamol during pregnancy with an increased risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mechanisms behind this correlation can be studied using cell models of development.

This thesis presents a protocol for a 20-day conversion of human embryonic stem cells to immature brain cells. Cell changes were analyzed with state-of-the-art single-cell whole-genome sequencing technology. The protocol was specifically designed for investigating potential effects that common medications might have on human brain development.

In the second part of this thesis, this protocol is used to investigate paracetamol’s effects on neuronal cell development. After paracetamol-exposure, the cells (compared to control - untreated cells) were delayed in their development. These subtle changes caused by paracetamol might offer a mechanistic explanation of the observed risk for ADHD after embryonal/fetal exposure. Discovering subtle damaging effects of a “safe” drug, like paracetamol, might be very difficult in currently used safety-testing. Therefore, it is reasonable to take extra precautions and be more thorough when classifying drugs as safe to use in pregnancy.

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Illustration: Martin Falck, UiO


Department of Biosciences

Published Nov. 2, 2020 10:01 AM - Last modified Feb. 4, 2022 1:50 PM