Neurons Created From Stem Cells To Study Schizophrenia!
A group of scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have successfully grown the nerve cells of brain from Schizophrenia patients in the laboratory, which can be used as model cells to test the efficacy of antipsychotic medications currently in use to treat this mental condition.
Schizophrenia is a complicated mental disorder that deprives its victim of his/her basic abilities such as logical thinking, normal social behavior, expression of emotional feelings and the ability to differentiate between real and unreal situations.
This study is indeed a breakthrough in schizophrenia research because in spite of 10 decades of grueling research, scientists could not find out the exact cause of this condition among adults.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) were created from the skin cells taken from schizophrenia patients. These stem cells have the capacity to differentiate into any type of cell under right conditions just like embryonic stem cells. Thus, iPSCs were transformed to neuron or brain cells.
Initially the researchers could not find any difference between the neurons developed from healthy individuals and the ones grown from schizophrenia patients.
Kristen Brennand, the first author of this study, then used a modified rabies virus which acted like a tracer and indicated a major difference between both the types of neurons.
It was observed that the schizophrenia neurons were not only less frequently connected with each other, but also had very few projections growing out from their respective cell bodies when compared with the healthy neurons.
Moreover, nearly 600 genes were found to express differently in the diseased neurons.
These neurons were then treated with several antipsychotic drugs to test the ability of these drugs in improving the interconnectivity among neurons. As a result, only 1 drug named Loxapine, was able to increase the ability of neurons to connect with each other.
This study gives a new hope to the people who have been enduring the ill-effects of schizophrenia.