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article imageSchizophrenia symptoms alleviated in new model

By Tim Sandle     Dec 4, 2018 in Science
Scientists have succeeded in alleviating schizophrenia symptoms using a mouse models. This involved restoring brain cell receptors, which was demonstrated to help to restore ‘normal behavior’.
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University were keen to understand whether they should be focusing on brain cell development or communication, or both, in order to address symptoms of schizophrenia. these distinctions were important because they result in very different therapeutic approaches.
For the research, scientists examined a brain cell receptor called ErbB4. The level of this receptor is altered in adults with schizophrenia. The ErbB4 receptor functions to maintain an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, called GABA. This neurotransmitter operates to prevent brain cells from overreacting and this seems to keep fear and anxiety in check.
The science group had demonstrated previously that ErbB4 mutations change signals inside brain cells. The consequence of this triggers schizophrenic symptoms in mice (and it is presumed that the same effect would occur with humans).
The Human Brain
Brain preserved in formaldehyde.
By Gaetan Lee (CC BY 2.0)
However, earlier studies could not demonstrate if deficits arise from abnormal development in young mice brains, or abnormal transmission developed later on. The answer is later on, with the way brain cells communicate during adulthood.
The significance of the research may lead to new therapeutics designed to improve brain cell signaling associated with the ErbB4 receptor.
The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research paper is titled “Genetic recovery of ErbB4 in adulthood partially restores brain functions in null mice.”
In related research, a study from McLean Hospital has demonstrated by using cultured cells from patients with psychotic disorders, the cells can be used to investigate abnormalities in nerve connections in the brain. The output of the research could lead to new treatments by giving researchers a greater capacity to find genetic and biochemical targets in the brain.
According to lead researcher Dr. Bruce M. Cohen: “Using in vitro cell cultures to study these abnormalities could help us identify specific genetic and biochemical targets that might be addressed by novel drug treatments, cell transplantation, or other interventions.”
The cell culture study has been published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, with the research titled “Oligodendrocyte differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells derived from subjects with schizophrenias implicate abnormalities in development.”
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