October 25, 2006

Stem Cells May Help Treat Mental Illness

A Korean news service announced this week that a team of international scientists has found through rodent experiments that embryonic stem cells may have potential use in the treatment of psychological disorders, such as depression, and potentially schizophrenia. This important area of research seems to offer hope for a cure. Investment by the US National Institute of Health in this area could significantly speed up the research which is currently stalled due to a veto by President Bush.

Drs. Miles Cunningham and Kim Kwang-soo at Harvard Medical School and Professor Kim Dong-wook at Yonsei University recently announced their collaborative findings at the annual Seoul Symposium on Stem Cell Research which took place last week at Yonsei University.

``Our team differentiated embryonic stem cells into nerve cells generating dopamine and serotonin while Dr. Cunningham devised a model of psychiatric disease for applying our technology, engrafting and evaluating approximately 80 animals,’’ Kim said.

``Then, the animals behaved as if they had taken anti-depressant medication. The tests demonstrate embryonic stem cells may be used to treat mental diseases in the future,’’ Kim said.

Dopamine and serotonin are well-known neurotransmitters, or the chemicals playing a key role in relaying, amplifying and modulating electrical signals between brain cells - and which are known to also play a role in schizophrenia. (for more information see: Schizophrenia as a Model of Dopamine Disfunction)

``Our next goal is to inject dopaminergic and serotonergic neurons into rodent brains separately to watch how they work in the central nervous system,’’ Kim said.

``The experiments are progress. But we are still at the initial stage and it will take a long time to apply them to a human being,’’ Kim said.

The team announced at the conference that they will disclose the detailed results from these studies to a well-known medical journal shortly.

Past Stories: Stem Cells may help Brain Disorders

More Information:
Stem Cells - Frequently Asked Questions
StemCell Action Network
Genetics Policy Institute (GPI)
Alliance For Stem Cell Research

Ben's Stem Cell News - All the latest stem cell research and science news (scroll down on Ben's page to get to the news)


I'm sure with the proper funding this could lead to new treatments. But instead our president desides all life is sacred and that he's on a mission from god. Try telling that to the thousands that have died in Iraq "you hypocrite". I'm so sick of religion it isnt even funny. With a chance to further mankind, and make quality of life better for those of us that are concess living beings. To deny us that because of a 2000 year old wives tale is a joke. Mankind needs to quit living in the past, and do whats best for the future. UP YOURS DUBWA!

Posted by: jcunningham at October 26, 2006 04:13 PM

Yes, I read this... and I really hope you can get it to work. Because my dad is parinoid schzi. and he really needs this. He has been off his meds for two years, and it ahs been hell for me n my family! So if you could get the funding and everything u need, i would apreciate it, because maybe my dad would get the shot or whatever. But u know the mentally ill they think everyone esle has something wrong with them, soo i guess i just have to hope!!! thank you though!!!!!!

Posted by: Evelyn Dellorfano at October 27, 2006 06:55 AM

the main trouble with many illnesses is people can't understand that they are ill. it doesn't matter what treatment there is out there, they will refuse it. the problem is that they refuse treatment. we are getting better treatments all the time, but that's not so much the problem as when ill, many people can't understand they are ill and refuse treatment.

stem cells may work, not by replacing cells of the body, as was first thought, but by secreting substances that help the body's cells heal. stems cells may secrete natural chemicals that nourish nerve cells.

but it's not really sure. it will require a lot more research. i think bush is just restricting stem cell research to appeal to the rightist republicans.

Posted by: slc2 at November 1, 2006 10:25 AM

I have parinoid schzi. and my little brother has a kidney transplant. Im wonder why Bush and these so called church groups dont want to help people by studing stem cells and other parts. Years ago people killed animals for God. But, now we do it to eat. Kill babys unwanted by rape,money,and health reasons. Why cant we kill junk that is masterbated, just there,or thrown away to help us. Maybe the church groups should help people like me and my brother rather than speek words of gods so called work. If your hurt you'll do anything to get better maybe they should be in my shoes.

Posted by: Josh at November 4, 2006 06:25 PM

i can understand your frustration. but remember - america isn't the only country in the world studying stell cell research. if we're dragging our feet that may not make much difference in the end. there are very well run and well designed studies in many countries of the world - my sister's involved in some studies in france, and many other countries have very modern studies going on. while bush panders to the rightists, people with illnesses still have the potential of benefitting from research going on at a fast pace in other parts of the world.

but be sure - stem cell research is a very long way yet from curing mental illness - or anythign else. and it may be quite difficult to treat any illness if the process goes on for some years before symptoms show up (that may be what happens with schizophrenia).

Posted by: slc at November 6, 2006 08:01 AM

Your data is so un-informed. Your desire is to cram this kind of garbage on ignorant people. We don't need for embryos to be harvested to use for experientation. We have plenty from natural cases that can be used. Why don't you try to post positive information instead of this bull that the realists in this country know to be the honest truth......

Posted by: clementina hernandez at December 31, 2006 05:38 AM

I really like what you guys are doing with this website. I think it is very important to find bigger treatments for Schizophrenia and hopefully there will eventually be a cure. I am not a Schizophrenic, but I however do want to be able to help in any way.

Posted by: Samantha Smith at September 11, 2007 06:00 AM

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