Stem Cells Created With Schizophrenia Gene

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have established two new lines of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells containing mutations in the gene known as Disrupted In Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1). iPS cells have the ability to become any cell type, and these new lines could be used to create brain cells that will aid in the study of schizophrenia and help test new drug treatments for the disease.

Guo-li Ming of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explains, "The hard work of generating and characterizing these iPS cells is a prelude for future studies. Now, we can look at neural cells differentiated from these iPS cells in order to investigate the mechanisms and functions of the DISC1 gene in the nervous system, and understand the role it may play in diseases such as schizophrenia. These future studies may lead to the identification of new molecules that might serve as drug targets."

The New Approach

The researchers used a new technique described as the episomal vector method, which allows them to create new stem cells without introducing foreign genes that have the potential to change cell behavior. The approach is less efficient than the more common viral method, but the end product is “cleaner” in that the genetic content of the original cells is not modified when they are reprogrammed to be stem cells.

Learn more details about the new approach at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/jhmi-jht031711.php

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