2024 Cobalamin G and Severe MTHFR Research Grant

Establishing MTHFR- and Cobalamin G-deficient cerebral organoids: an in vitro disease model for investigating novel therapies

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ferdinand von Meyenn

A man wearing a red jacket and white shirt.

February 2, 2024

PDF version icon on plain white background PDF Version

HCU Network America and HCU Network Australia have announced the recipient of their first Homocystinuria due to severe methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and cobalamin G (cblG) Deficiency research grant, awarding ETH Zurich, to identify potential treatment for severe MTHFR and cblG. The research, led by Dr. Ferdinand von Meyenn, aims to replicate the characteristics of these disorders using cerebral organoids, providing essential insight into the mechanism of this metabolic function. In addition, potential therapies will be screened to determine if a new molecule is capable of rescuing disease related complications that are typically still present despite current treatment methods. Dr. von Meyenn is an Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland at the Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolic Epigenetics.

According to the principal investigator, Dr. Ferdinand von Meyenn, “the project supported by the HCU Network America and HCU Network Australia aims to understand and find treatments for two rare disorders, MTHFR and Cobalamin G deficiencies, which usually start in infancy and lack efficient treatments. We plan to use lab-grown mini-brains (cerebral organoids) made from special cells to better understand the diseases. These mini-brains will also help to test new treatments since they have been useful in studying other brain development disorders.

The mini-brains will be checked to see if they show similar problems as seen in patients, like growth defects, changes in brain tissue, and other specific issues. The project will also use these mini-brains to test existing and new drugs to see if they can help with these disorders. This includes drugs like folate and its derivatives, and other potential treatments. The goal is to create a lab-based platform to test many treatments for MTHFR and Cobalamin G deficiencies effectively and thereby help identify novel treatments for the affected children to help them live a better life.”

HCU Network America Board Member and Chair of the Severe MTHFR steering committee, Grace Talbert said: “The idea of research for severe MTHFR seemed so farfetched when my daughter, Carson, was diagnosed 3 years ago. I am so proud of the families who rallied around the globe to make this research possible. I am thankful for Dr. von Meyenn and his innovative idea to research this rare condition. I’m beyond thrilled for how this may shape the understanding and treatments for severe MTHFR. For the first time since my daughter was diagnosed, I am feeling hopeful for her future and for all the children diagnosed with severe MTHFR.”

Family representative from HCU Network Australia Renske Dijkhuis said: “We’re very grateful for the enormous amount of support we have received from our community and beyond, to be able to help raise funds for this research grant!”

Board member for HCU Network America and Remethylation Grant Program Lead, Brittany Parke said “I am especially grateful to Dr. von Meyenn to expand this project to include cobalamin G in addition to his original submission for severe MTHFR research. This information will propel future research and help our community better understand these complex and rare disorders. It was too fantastic of a project to pass up the opportunity to fund a second project for the cblG community.”

HCU Network America and HCU Network Australia thanks their community of supporters whose contributions made this grant possible.

About Ferdinand von Meyenn, PhD

Ferdinand von Meyenn has been an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Food Nutrition and Health at ETH Zurich since January 2019. Ferdinand studied Biochemistry at the TU Müchnen, Germany, before moving to ETH Zürich for his PhD to study metabolism and type-2 diabetes. After his graduation, he joined Prof Wolf Reik at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK, and investigated epigenetic mechanisms during development and aging. In 2017 he joined King’s College London as a Research Fellow and then moved in 2019 to ETH Zurich where he was appointed Assistant Professor for Nutrition and Metabolic Epigenetics. His research focuses on the complex relationship between nutrition, metabolism, and the epigenome, with the aim to contribute to the development of novel strategies to combat obesity and metabolic disease.


A woman in a colorful shirt is posing for a photo.
Beata Vekeriotaite Student / Programme Doctorate at D-​HEST

Special mention to the PhD student, Beata Vekeriotaite, who is working on the project and who has significantly contributed to the concept.

Verified by ExactMetrics