Gert-Jan B van Ommen

Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre, Nymegen, Gelderland, Netherlands

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Publications (137)1214.57 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Whole-genome sequencing enables complete characterization of genetic variation, but geographic clustering of rare alleles demands many diverse populations be studied. Here we describe the Genome of the Netherlands (GoNL) Project, in which we sequenced the whole genomes of 250 Dutch parent-offspring families and constructed a haplotype map of 20.4 million single-nucleotide variants and 1.2 million insertions and deletions. The intermediate coverage (~13×) and trio design enabled extensive characterization of structural variation, including midsize events (30–500 bp) previously poorly catalogued and de novo mutations. We demonstrate that the quality of the haplotypes boosts imputation accuracy in independent samples, especially for lower frequency alleles. Population genetic analyses demonstrate fine-scale structure across the country and support multiple ancient migrations, consistent with historical changes in sea level and flooding. The GoNL Project illustrates how single-population whole-genome sequencing can provide detailed characterization of genetic variation and may guide the design of future population studies.
    Nature Genetics 06/2014; · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by lack of functional dystrophin and results in progressive myofiber damage and degeneration. In addition, impaired muscle regeneration and fibrosis contribute to the progressive pathology of DMD. Importantly, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is implicated in DMD pathology and is known to stimulate fibrosis and inhibit muscle regeneration. In this study, we present a new strategy to target TGF-β signaling cascades by specifically inhibiting the expression of TGF-β type I receptor TGFBR1 (ALK5). Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) were designed to specifically induce exon skipping of mouse ALK5 transcripts. AON-induced exon skipping of ALK5 resulted in specific downregulation of full-length receptor transcripts in vitro in different cell types, repression of TGF-β activity, and enhanced C2C12 myoblast differentiation. To determine the effect of these AONs in dystrophic muscles, we performed intramuscular injections of ALK5 AONs in mdx mice, which resulted in a decrease in expression of fibrosis-related genes and upregulation of Myog expression compared to control AON-injected muscles. In summary, our study presents a novel method to target TGF-β signaling cascades with potential beneficial effects for DMD.
    Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids. 01/2014; 3:e156.
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive autosomal dominant disorder, caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the HTT gene, which results in expansion of a polyglutamine stretch at the N-terminal end of the huntingtin protein. Several studies have implicated the importance of proteolytic cleavage of mutant huntingtin in HD pathogenesis and it is generally accepted that N-terminal huntingtin fragments are more toxic than full-length protein. Important cleavage sites are encoded by exon 12 of HTT. Here we report proof of concept using antisense oligonucleotides to induce skipping of exon 12 in huntingtin pre-mRNA, thereby preventing the formation of a 586 amino acid N-terminal huntingtin fragment implicated in HD toxicity. In vitro studies showed successful exon skipping and appearance of a shorter huntingtin protein. Cleavage assays showed reduced 586 amino acid N-terminal huntingtin fragments in the treated samples. In vivo studies revealed exon skipping after a single injection of antisense oligonucleotides in the mouse striatum. Recent advances to inhibit the formation of mutant huntingtin using oligonucleotides seem promising therapeutic strategies for HD. Nevertheless, huntingtin is an essential protein and total removal has been shown to result in progressive neurodegeneration in vivo. Our proof of concept shows a completely novel approach to reduce mutant huntingtin toxicity not by reducing its expressing levels, but by modifying the huntingtin protein.
    Nucleic acid therapeutics. 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: RNA sequencing is an increasingly popular technology for genome-wide analysis of transcript sequence and abundance. However, understanding of the sources of technical and interlaboratory variation is still limited. To address this, the GEUVADIS consortium sequenced mRNAs and small RNAs of lymphoblastoid cell lines of 465 individuals in seven sequencing centers, with a large number of replicates. The variation between laboratories appeared to be considerably smaller than the already limited biological variation. Laboratory effects were mainly seen in differences in insert size and GC content and could be adequately corrected for. In small-RNA sequencing, the microRNA (miRNA) content differed widely between samples owing to competitive sequencing of rRNA fragments. This did not affect relative quantification of miRNAs. We conclude that distributing RNA sequencing among different laboratories is feasible, given proper standardization and randomization procedures. We provide a set of quality measures and guidelines for assessing technical biases in RNA-seq data.
    Nature Biotechnology 09/2013; · 32.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genome sequencing projects are discovering millions of genetic variants in humans, and interpretation of their functional effects is essential for understanding the genetic basis of variation in human traits. Here we report sequencing and deep analysis of messenger RNA and microRNA from lymphoblastoid cell lines of 462 individuals from the 1000 Genomes Project-the first uniformly processed high-throughput RNA-sequencing data from multiple human populations with high-quality genome sequences. We discover extremely widespread genetic variation affecting the regulation of most genes, with transcript structure and expression level variation being equally common but genetically largely independent. Our characterization of causal regulatory variation sheds light on the cellular mechanisms of regulatory and loss-of-function variation, and allows us to infer putative causal variants for dozens of disease-associated loci. Altogether, this study provides a deep understanding of the cellular mechanisms of transcriptome variation and of the landscape of functional variants in the human genome.
    Nature 09/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA sequencing is an increasingly popular technology for genome-wide analysis of transcript sequence and abundance. However, understanding of the sources of technical and interlaboratory variation is still limited. To address this, the GEUVADIS consortium sequenced mRNAs and small RNAs of lymphoblastoid cell lines of 465 individuals in seven sequencing centers, with a large number of replicates. The variation between laboratories appeared to be considerably smaller than the already limited biological variation. Laboratory effects were mainly seen in differences in insert size and GC content and could be adequately corrected for. In small-RNA sequencing, the microRNA (miRNA) content differed widely between samples owing to competitive sequencing of rRNA fragments. This did not affect relative quantification of miRNAs. We conclude that distributing RNA sequencing among different laboratories is feasible, given proper standardization and randomization procedures. We provide a set of quality measures and g
    Nature Biotechnology 09/2013; advance online publication. · 32.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metabolomics is the comprehensive study of metabolites, which are the substrates, intermediate, and end products of cellular metabolism. The heritability of the concentrations of circulating metabolites bears relevance for evaluating their suitability as biomarkers for disease. We report aspects of familial resemblance for the concentrations in human serum of more than 100 metabolites, measured using a targeted metabolomics platform. Age- and sex-corrected monozygotic twin correlations, midparent-offspring regression coefficients, and spouse correlations in subjects from two independent cohorts (Netherlands Twin Register and Leiden Longevity Study) were estimated for each metabolite. In the Netherlands Twin Register subjects, who were largely fasting, we found significant monozygotic twin correlations for 121 out of 123 metabolites. Heritability was confirmed by midparent-offspring regression. For most detected metabolites, the correlations between spouses were considerably lower than those between twins, indicating a contribution of genetic effects to familial resemblance. Remarkably high heritability was observed for free carnitine (monozygotic twin correlation 0.66), for the amino acids serine (monozygotic twin correlation 0.77) and threonine (monozygotic twin correlation 0.64), and for phosphatidylcholine acyl-alkyl C40:3 (monozygotic twin correlation 0.77). For octenoylcarnitine, a consistent point estimate of approximately 0.50 was found for the spouse correlations in the two cohorts as well as for the monozygotic twin correlation, suggesting that familiality for this metabolite is explained by shared environment. We conclude that for the majority of metabolites targeted by the used metabolomics platform, the familial resemblance of serum concentrations is largely genetic. Our results contribute to the knowledge of the heritability of fasting serum metabolite concentrations, which is relevant for biomarker research.
    Twin Research and Human Genetics 08/2013; · 1.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many disease-associated variants affect gene expression levels (expression quantitative trait loci, eQTLs) and expression profiling using next generation sequencing (NGS) technology is a powerful way to detect these eQTLs. We analyzed 94 total blood samples from healthy volunteers with DeepSAGE to gain specific insight into how genetic variants affect the expression of genes and lengths of 3'-untranslated regions (3'-UTRs). We detected previously unknown cis-eQTL effects for GWAS hits in disease- and physiology-associated traits. Apart from cis-eQTLs that are typically easily identifiable using microarrays or RNA-sequencing, DeepSAGE also revealed many cis-eQTLs for antisense and other non-coding transcripts, often in genomic regions containing retrotransposon-derived elements. We also identified and confirmed SNPs that affect the usage of alternative polyadenylation sites, thereby potentially influencing the stability of messenger RNAs (mRNA). We then combined the power of RNA-sequencing with DeepSAGE by performing a meta-analysis of three datasets, leading to the identification of many more cis-eQTLs. Our results indicate that DeepSAGE data is useful for eQTL mapping of known and unknown transcripts, and for identifying SNPs that affect alternative polyadenylation. Because of the inherent differences between DeepSAGE and RNA-sequencing, our complementary, integrative approach leads to greater insight into the molecular consequences of many disease-associated variants.
    PLoS Genetics 06/2013; 9(6):e1003594. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Within the Netherlands a national network of biobanks has been established (Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure-Netherlands (BBMRI-NL)) as a national node of the European BBMRI. One of the aims of BBMRI-NL is to enrich biobanks with different types of molecular and phenotype data. Here, we describe the Genome of the Netherlands (GoNL), one of the projects within BBMRI-NL. GoNL is a whole-genome-sequencing project in a representative sample consisting of 250 trio-families from all provinces in the Netherlands, which aims to characterize DNA sequence variation in the Dutch population. The parent-offspring trios include adult individuals ranging in age from 19 to 87 years (mean=53 years; SD=16 years) from birth cohorts 1910-1994. Sequencing was done on blood-derived DNA from uncultured cells and accomplished coverage was 14-15x. The family-based design represents a unique resource to assess the frequency of regional variants, accurately reconstruct haplotypes by family-based phasing, characterize short indels and complex structural variants, and establish the rate of de novo mutational events. GoNL will also serve as a reference panel for imputation in the available genome-wide association studies in Dutch and other cohorts to refine association signals and uncover population-specific variants. GoNL will create a catalog of human genetic variation in this sample that is uniquely characterized with respect to micro-geographic location and a wide range of phenotypes. The resource will be made available to the research and medical community to guide the interpretation of sequencing projects. The present paper summarizes the global characteristics of the project.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 29 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.118.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 05/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 is caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the ataxin-3 protein, resulting in gain of toxic function of the mutant protein. The expanded glutamine stretch in the protein is the result of a CAG triplet repeat expansion in the penultimate exon of the ATXN3 gene. Several gene silencing approaches to reduce mutant ataxin-3 toxicity in this disease aim to lower ataxin-3 protein levels, but since this protein is involved in deubiquitination and proteasomal protein degradation, its long-term silencing might not be desirable. Here, we propose a novel protein modification approach to reduce mutant ataxin-3 toxicity by removing the toxic polyglutamine repeat from the ataxin-3 protein through antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping while maintaining important wild type functions of the protein. In vitro studies showed that exon skipping did not negatively impact the ubiquitin binding capacity of ataxin-3. Our in vivo studies showed no toxic properties of the novel truncated ataxin-3 protein. These results suggest exon skipping may be a novel therapeutic approach to reduce polyglutamine-induced toxicity in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3.
    Neurobiology of Disease 05/2013; · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Persistent infection of basal keratinocytes with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) may cause cancer. Keratinocytes are equipped with different pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) but hrHPV has developed ways to dampen their signals resulting in minimal inflammation and evasion of host immunity for sustained periods of time. To understand the mechanisms underlying hrHPV's capacity to evade immunity, we studied PRR signaling in non, newly, and persistently hrHPV-infected keratinocytes. We found that active infection with hrHPV hampered the relay of signals downstream of the PRRs to the nucleus, thereby affecting the production of type-I interferon and pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. This suppression was shown to depend on hrHPV-induced expression of the cellular protein ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCHL1) in keratinocytes. UCHL1 accomplished this by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 3 (TRAF3) K63 poly-ubiquitination which lead to lower levels of TRAF3 bound to TANK-binding kinase 1 and a reduced phosphorylation of interferon regulatory factor 3. Furthermore, UCHL1 mediated the degradation of the NF-kappa-B essential modulator with as result the suppression of p65 phosphorylation and canonical NF-κB signaling. We conclude that hrHPV exploits the cellular protein UCHL1 to evade host innate immunity by suppressing PRR-induced keratinocyte-mediated production of interferons, cytokines and chemokines, which normally results in the attraction and activation of an adaptive immune response. This identifies UCHL1 as a negative regulator of PRR-induced immune responses and consequently its virus-increased expression as a strategy for hrHPV to persist.
    PLoS Pathogens 05/2013; 9(5):e1003384. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe muscle-wasting disorder caused by the lack of functional dystrophin. There is no cure, but several clinical trials aimed to restore the synthesis of functional dystrophin are underway. The dystrophin levels needed for improvement of muscle pathology, function, and overall vitality are not known. Here, we describe the mdx/utrn-/-/XistΔhs mouse model, which expresses a range of low dystrophin levels, depending on the degree of skewing of X inactivation in a utrophin-negative background. Mdx/utrn-/- mice develop severe muscle weakness, kyphosis, respiratory and heart failure, and premature death closely resembling DMD pathology. We show that at dystrophin levels < 4%, survival and motor function in these animals are greatly improved. In mice expressing >4% dystrophin, histopathology is ameliorated, as well. These findings suggest that the dystrophin levels needed to benefit vitality and functioning of patients with DMD might be lower than those needed for full protection against muscle damage.-Van Putten, M., Hulsker, M., Young, C., Nadarajah, V. D., Heemskerk, H., van der Weerd, L., 't Hoen, P. A. C., van Ommen, G. J. B., Aartsma-Rus, A. M. Low dystrophin levels increase survival and improve muscle pathology and function in dystrophin/utrophin double-knockout mice.
    The FASEB Journal 03/2013; · 5.70 Impact Factor
  • Gert-Jan B van Ommen, Annemieke Aarstma-Rus
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the advances in the past decade of different applications of modulating the level and content of mRNA by antisense oligonucleotide (AON)-based exon skipping. The primary aim of such modulation is the correction of genetic defects by alteration of the resulting protein such that the dysfunction is reduced or relieved. This applocation is in several clinical phase III trails, notably for Duchenne Muscular dystrophy and earlier clinical trials are in preparation for other diseases, a.o. Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A alternative aim may be to disrupt the reading frame of dysfunctional proteins when the have a dominant negative effect and their absence may ameliorate disease. A third aim is to target mRNAs for other proteins, the engineering of which might improve or prevent the disease. A final application, which is as yet under-explored but has major promise, is the functional in vivo study of protein isoforms by modulating their relative levels by AON-based skipping of alternative exons.
    New Biotechnology 01/2013; · 1.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cytokine interleukin 1(IL-1) initiates a wide range of proinflammatory cascades and its inhibition has been shown to decrease inflammation in a variety of diseases. IL-1 receptor accessory protein (IL-1RAcP) is an indispensible part of the IL-1R complex that stabilizes IL-1/IL-1R interaction and plays an important role in the signal transduction of the receptor complex. The soluble form of IL-1RAcP (sIL-1RAcP) contains only the extracellular domain and serves as a natural inhibitor of IL-1 signaling. Therefore, increasing sIL-1RAcP levels might be an attractive therapeutic strategy to inhibit IL-1-driven inflammation. To achieve this we designed specific antisense oligonucleotides (AON), to redirect pre-mRNA IL-1RAcP splicing by skipping of the transmembrane domain encoding exon 9. This would give rise to a novel Δ9IL-1RAcP mRNA encoding a soluble, secreted form of IL-1RAcP, which might have similar activity as natural sIL-1RAcP. AON treatment resulted in exon 9 skipping both in vitro and in vivo. A single dose injection of 10 mg AON/kg body weight induced 90% skipping in mouse liver during at least 5 days. The truncated mRNA encoded for a secreted, soluble Δ9IL-1RAcP protein. IL-1RAcP skipping resulted in a substantial inhibition of IL-1 signaling in vitro. These results indicate that skipping of the transmembrane encoding exon 9 of IL-1RAcP using specific AONs might be a promising therapeutic strategy in a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases.Molecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e66; doi:10.1038/mtna.2012.58; published online 22 January 2013.
    Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids. 01/2013; 2:e66.
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    ABSTRACT: The neuromuscular disorders (NMDs) involve many different genetic and acquired diseases. Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone and deflazacort) are prescribed for some NMDs as a palliative treatment to slow down disease progression to some extent. For the vast majority of NMDs, no specific therapy is currently available that stops progression or reverses the clinical deficits of the diseases. However, recent progress with different therapeutic approaches is now resulting in numerous clinical trials. In this chapter, we give an overview of the current state of the art, opportunities and challenges for gene therapy, cell therapy, antisense-mediated modulation of splicing, and numerous drug therapies for NMDs in general, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy as a paradigm in particular. Although none of the proposed strategies has yet proven to be of therapeutic value in patients, it is reasonable to expect that clinical efficacy will soon be demonstrated for some of the more advanced approaches.
    Handbook of Clinical Neurology 01/2013; 113:1497-501.
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    ABSTRACT: Biobanks can have a pivotal role in elucidating disease etiology, translation, and advancing public health. However, meeting these challenges hinges on a critical shift in the way science is conducted and requires biobank harmonization. There is growing recognition that a common strategy is imperative to develop biobanking globally and effectively. To help guide this strategy, we articulate key principles, goals, and priorities underpinning a roadmap for global biobanking to accelerate health science, patient care, and public health. The need to manage and share very large amounts of data has driven innovations on many fronts. Although technological solutions are allowing biobanks to reach new levels of integration, increasingly powerful data-collection tools, analytical techniques, and the results they generate raise new ethical and legal issues and challenges, necessitating a reconsideration of previous policies, practices, and ethical norms. These manifold advances and the investments that support them are also fueling opportunities for biobanks to ultimately become integral parts of health-care systems in many countries. International harmonization to increase interoperability and sustainability are two strategic priorities for biobanking. Tackling these issues requires an environment favorably inclined toward scientific funding and equipped to address socio-ethical challenges. Cooperation and collaboration must extend beyond systems to enable the exchange of data and samples to strategic alliances between many organizations, including governmental bodies, funding agencies, public and private science enterprises, and other stakeholders, including patients. A common vision is required and we articulate the essential basis of such a vision herein.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 06/2012; 20(11):1105-11. · 3.56 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the rheumatic diseases 04/2012; 71 Suppl 2:i75-7. · 8.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We identified de novo truncating mutations in ARID1B in three individuals with Coffin-Siris syndrome (CSS) by exome sequencing. Array-based copy-number variation (CNV) analysis in 2,000 individuals with intellectual disability revealed deletions encompassing ARID1B in 3 subjects with phenotypes partially overlapping that of CSS. Taken together with published data, these results indicate that haploinsufficiency of the ARID1B gene, which encodes an epigenetic modifier of chromatin structure, is an important cause of CSS and is potentially a common cause of intellectual disability and speech impairment.
    Nature Genetics 03/2012; 44(4):379-80. · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The genetic defect of mdx mice resembles that of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, although their functional performance and life expectancy is nearly normal. By contrast, mice lacking utrophin and dystrophin (mdx/utrn -/-) are severely affected and die prematurely. Mice with one utrophin allele (mdx/utrn +/-) are more severely affected than mdx mice, but outlive mdx/utrn -/- mice. We subjected mdx/utrn +/+, +/-, -/- and wild type males to a 12week functional test regime of four different functional tests. Mdx/utrn +/+ and +/- mice completed the regime, while mdx/utrn -/- mice died prematurely. Mdx/utrn +/- mice performed significantly worse compared to mdx/utrn +/+ mice in functional tests. Creatine kinase levels, percentage of fibrotic/necrotic tissue, morphology of neuromuscular synapses and expression of biomarker genes were comparable, whereas mdx/utrn +/- and -/- mice had increased levels of regenerating fibers. This makes mdx/utrn +/- mice valuable for testing the benefit of potential therapies on muscle function parameters.
    Neuromuscular Disorders 01/2012; 22(5):406-17. · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), dystrophin deficiency leading to progressive muscular degeneration is caused by frame-shifting mutations in the DMD gene. Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) aim to restore the reading frame by skipping of a specific exon(s), thereby allowing the production of a shorter, but semifunctional protein, as is found in the mostly more mildly affected patients with Becker muscular dystrophy. AONs are currently being investigated in phase 3 placebo-controlled clinical trials. Most of the participating patients are treated symptomatically with corticosteroids (mainly predniso[lo]ne) to stabilize the muscle fibers, which might affect the uptake and/or efficiency of AONs. Therefore the effect of prednisolone on 2'-O-methyl phosphorothioate AON efficacy in patient-derived cultured muscle cells and the mdx mouse model (after local and systemic AON treatment) was assessed in this study. Both in vitro and in vivo skip efficiency and biomarker expression were comparable between saline- and prednisolone-cotreated cells and mice. After systemic exon 23-specific AON (23AON) treatment for 8 weeks, dystrophin was detectable in all treated mice. Western blot analyses indicated slightly higher dystrophin levels in prednisolone-treated mice, which might be explained by better muscle condition and consequently more target dystrophin pre-mRNA. In addition, fibrotic and regeneration biomarkers were normalized to some extent in prednisolone- and/or 23AON-treated mice. Overall these results show that the use of prednisone forms no barrier to participation in clinical trials with AONs.
    Human gene therapy 01/2012; 23(3):262-73. · 4.20 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
1,214.57 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre
      Nymegen, Gelderland, Netherlands
  • 2012
    • Norwegian Institute of Public Health
      • Department of Genes and Environment
      Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 1998–2012
    • Leiden University Medical Centre
      • • Department of Human Genetics
      • • Department of Neurology
      Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 2011
    • Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010
    • University of Lille Nord de France
      Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
    • University Hospital Regensburg
      Ratisbon, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1993–2009
    • Leiden University
      • Molecular Cell Biology Group
      Leyden, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 2008
    • The University of Manchester
      • School of Translational Medicine
      Manchester, ENG, United Kingdom
    • Universitair Ziekenhuis Leuven
      • Department of Neurology
      Louvain, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2004
    • University of Groningen
      • Department of Medical Genetics
      Groningen, Province of Groningen, Netherlands