Stem cell research in bipolar disorder
When most of us think of stem cells, we think of ethical controversy, umbilical cord blood banks, growing new tissues and other commonly discussed topics in medical research.
I would venture that not many think of stem cell research in relation to psychiatric conditions and what we might learn about them.
Researchers at the University of Michigan are now using stem cells from skin fibroblasts of people with bipolar disorder to gain more understanding of this difficult mental illness.
By observing how the stem cells behave and change, researchers have already discovered a few ways in which cells from individuals with bipolar disorder are different from those with no bipolar disorder. Differences lie in how often certain genes are expressed, how they differentiate, how they communicate and also how they respond to lithium.