Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2021.



First Advisor

Prashanth Asuri

Second Advisor

Maryam Mobed-Miremadi


Exposure to developmental toxins during gestation have been shown to be linked to neurological disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and dyslexia [1] . In this report we describe efforts that represent the ground work to develop a predictive neurotoxicity model to test developmental toxicity on early neuronal differentiation from drugs and toxins for human consumption or exposure. Developmental toxins are toxins that prevent stem cell differentiation into neurons by impacting neural development [2] . Currency technologies used to evaluate a compound's potential as a developmental toxin are centered around culturing stem cells in a two-dimensional environment or exposing animal models to the compound. The stem cells are then monitored for changes in proliferation, differentiation, and death. These classes of experiments proved not only to be expensive, but also extremely time consuming and ineffective in some cases. These technologies do not accurately mimic the in vivo environment, which uses ECM proteins and cell-cell interactions to regulate cellular functions such as migration, apoptosis, and gene expression. Our predictive model would provide a more biologically accurate alternative of the human system compared to two-dimensional cell culture and animal models. Our model would further improve the quality and relevance of developmental neurotoxicity research, reduce the number of animal experiments and overall cost to evaluate the potential for a compound to act as a developmental toxin.