Stem cell research to treat schizophrenia

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It can be a scary mental disorder, schizophrenia is not a common condition, but for those who have it, life can be nightmarish. Now, a Texas scientist is researching stem cells and how they might help treat this devastating disorder.

Daniel Lodge, PhD Associate Professor, UT Health San Antonio, explains, “When people hear schizophrenia or psychosis, they immediately go to what they see in movies, the quote unquote crazy person and that’s not what schizophrenia is.” 

Scientists believe schizophrenia starts in utero, but the symptoms, such as hallucinations, paranoia and social withdrawal, don’t appear until a person is in their teens. \

Fonda White, says, “Like I was hearing voices. I was seeing things, honestly I thought everybody heard voices.” 

He saw dark, shadowy figures, scary to a small child. In many ways, it was like a horror movie. Now he’s a peer specialist taking meds. 

Lodge says, “The problem with these drugs is that they have side effects like weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and constipation. That’s why researchers are studying stem cells in the brain that target the root cause. Daniel lodge experimented with rodents and discovered that inserting stem cells into the brains of the control group improved their cognitive function. And at the end of a long research road, researchers say stem cell treatments could have a tremendous effect on people such as Fonda with better quality of life.” 

Marina Robertson, Licensed Professional Counselor, explains, “This is very powerful because not only is it building their ability to become independent, but also to achieve their dreams, the things they want to do in life.” 

Fonda continues, “If anybody’s going through it or you feel like somebody’s having symptoms or something like that, definitely help them. Don’t lose hope on it.” 

Professor Lodge hopes his research leads to a stem cell treatment that would be administered to patients in pill form. Taking this therapy from the lab to clinic will take at least ten years.

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