Stem cell-derived interneuron transplants as a treatment for schizophrenia: preclinical validation in a rodent model

A lot of news stories have been written about the potential of stem cells in treating disease. This is one of the few stories that we’ve seen that focuses on potential psychiatric treatments. While it is still very early in the research, we are encouraged by the research that has been done and the potential for cures that might arise from this line of research. Here is news about a new study in this area:

An increasing literature suggests that schizophrenia is associated with a reduction in hippocampal interneuron function. Thus, we posit that stem cell-derived interneuron transplants may be an effective therapeutic strategy to reduce hippocampal hyperactivity and attenuate behavioral deficits in schizophrenia.

Here we used a dual-reporter embryonic stem cell line to generate enriched populations of parvalbumin (PV)- or somatostatin (SST)-positive interneurons, which were transplanted into the ventral hippocampus of the methylazoxymethanol rodent model of schizophrenia.

These interneuron transplants integrate within the existing circuitry, reduce hippocampal hyperactivity and normalize aberrant dopamine neuron activity. Further, interneuron transplants alleviate behaviors that model negative and cognitive symptoms, including deficits in social interaction and cognitive inflexibility. Interestingly, PV- and SST-enriched transplants produced differential effects on behavior, with PV-enriched populations effectively normalizing all the behaviors examined.

These data suggest that the stem cell-derived interneuron transplants may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for schizophrenia.

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When is this going to deliver to human beings…

At last, it’s been a while since I posted a question on Quora asking why stem cells aren’t used to treat schizophrenia. I’m aware this is a tough one, because the neurological biomarkers are eclectic and numerous among different types of schizophrenia, but still, it’s worth a shot. I’m waiting for clinical trials to begin during the next 5 years, that’s my prediction.

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