Stem Cell Research on Proteins Gives New Insights into Schizophrenia

Stem cells in patients with schizophrenia produce new proteins more slowly compared to healthy people, a finding that researchers say may provide new approaches to drug therapies for the psychiatric disorder.

Alan Mackay-Sim, PhD, of the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues analyzed nearly 1000 proteins in schizophrenia patients’ stem cells. The rate of protein synthesis was greatly reduced in these patients, the researchers reported in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Another study in the same issue of the journal, in which Mackay-Sim was also involved, examined another kind of stem cells generated from people with schizophrenia. However, that study came to the opposite conclusion: Schizophrenia patients’ stem cells were found to make proteins more rapidly than stem cells from healthy controls.

“However, while on the surface this seems like a contradiction, the two studies support each other by showing that the regulation of protein synthesis is subtly disturbed in the cells of people with schizophrenia,” Mackay-Sim said in a statement.