Cerebral Palsy Research Network Blog

Genes and Cerebral Palsy

Michael Kruer, MD
Michael Kruer, MD

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network (CPRN) researcher Michael Kruer MD, a movement disorders pediatric neurologist and geneticist at the University of Arizona, was published last month in Nature Genetics for his work on the discovery of genes that may cause cerebral palsy (CP) by impairing the wiring of brain signals during early development.  These findings support the need for broader research being conducted by Dr. Kruer and CPRN. The early study of these genes led to treatment changes in some patients.

The published paper was based on genetic sequencing from 250 parent and child combinations (trios).  The CPRN study, led by Dr. Kruer and funding by the National Institutes of Health, will allow the analysis of a rich set of patient characteristics captured in the CPRN CP Registry in conjunction with genomic analyses for 500 additional trios. The findings from this study hold the promise to improve diagnoses and treatments for children with CP. Identifying genetic causes is key to providing personalized or precision medicine which will help tailor interventions for people with CP to enable more effective treatments.

When asked to explain the significance of these findings, Dr. Kruer said, “this study is the first firm statistical and laboratory evidence that a substantial proportion of CP cases are caused by genetic mutations; findings indicate CP genes don’t map to clotting and inflammation but more to early brain development; although brain wiring is complex, findings suggest new targeted therapies for CP are possible (rather than focusing simply on reducing symptoms as is current paradigm); early experience indicates that for some participants, genetic findings directly changed their clinical management (avoiding complication, reaching for best treatment first, or even prompting a completely new treatment that would not otherwise have been tried).”

We look forward to beginning to enroll patients from the CPRN CP Registry into this study in the coming months.