Stem Cells Facilitate Disease Study

By extracting stem cells from patients with diseases like diabetes, Down syndrome, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia, scientists can examine how the disorders affect the body.

What's the Latest Development?


By extracting stem cells from individuals with diseases like diabetes, Down syndrome and schizophrenia, and then recreating the diseases in laboratory conditions, scientists are better able to understand how the disorders affect the body. By recreating the neurons of a person infected with the rare Timothy syndrome, for example, Stanford scientists were able to determine that "the cells were making too much of an enzyme that is critical for producing dopamine and norepinephrine, two important chemical messengers in the brain." 

What's the Big Idea?

The technique of growing differentiated stem cells was developed just four years ago by American and Japanese scientists but it has already enable doctors to better understand a host of pernicious diseases. And by understanding how disease affects the body, researchers get closer to developing treatments. In the case of the patient with Timothy syndrome, scientists engineered a drug that blocked the excessive production of the crucial enzyme, softening the symptoms of the disease.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

(shutterstock)
Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less