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Neuroscience

Patient-derived cells provide new drug-screening method for schizophrenia

The cells provide more disease-relevant information than commonly used cancer cell lines

by Cici Zhang
November 3, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 44

 

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Up to 30% of people with schizophrenia don’t respond to existing medications. Current screens for new drugs rely on cancer cell lines, which aren’t an accurate model of the disease. To make a more realistic screening platform, researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Eli Lilly & Co. have developed a way to screen potential drug candidates using patient-derived neural cells (Nat. Commun. 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06515-4). Mount Sinai’s Kristen Brennand and colleagues took skin cells from 12 people with schizophrenia and from a group of people without the disease, then used chemical cues to induce the cells to revert back into stem cells and then into neural progenitor cells. The team exposed these cells to 135 drugs, including those commonly used to treat schizophrenia, such as haloperidol. Compared with cancer cell lines and cells derived from healthy subjects, the cells derived from people with schizophrenia displayed more disease-related changes in gene expression after drug exposure. The authors write in their paper that the screen could improve the success rate of neuropsychiatric drug discovery.

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