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Stem cells from Scots with bipolar disorder to boost global research

Stem cells from Scots with bipolar disorder to boost global research

Neural stem cells - credit Joseph Elsbernd​

University of Edinburgh researchers are sharing stem cells from patients with bipolar disorder around the world, in an attempt to boost understanding of the condition.

Skin cells donated by sufferers of the serious mental illness and family members who are unaffected were turned into brain cells in the University’s laboratories.

The new cells have the same genes and characteristics as the brain cells from the person that donated a sample of their skin, according to the research team.


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It is hoped the cells will be more effective and ultimately replace animal testing.

Biological Psychiatry Professor Andrew McIntosh of the University of Edinburgh led the project.

“Being able to grow brain cells from families with bipolar disorder represents a major addition to our research toolbox,” he said.

“It will enable us to discover what goes awry in the brains of people with bipolar disorder and a number of other psychiatric disorders. It will also provide a platform against which new and more effective therapies can be tried, reducing the need for animal experiments.”

UK biotechnology company Roslin Cell Sciences will expand and bank the cells and they will be distributed via the new European Bank for induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC).

The project was funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

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