Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR) has established a stem cell repository for the National Institute of Mental Health that will better enable researchers to study a variety of mental health disorders, including autism, attention deficit disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, that affect millions of Americans.
"The biology of mental health disorders has been especially difficult to study because brain tissue from affected individuals is seldom available," said principal investigator Jay A. Tischfield, Duncan and Nancy Macmillan Professor and director of the Human Genetics Institute. "With the award of this new grant, we will provide researchers with new biological tools that will greatly enhance our understanding of the biological basis of mental disorders."
The NIMH Repository Supporting Stem Cell Research will be part of the existing NIMH Center for Collaborative Genetic Studies on Mental Disorders which has been based at Rutgers since 1998 when NIMH awarded Rutgers $96 million to establish cell lines, DNA and RNA for the NIMH Genetics Initiative by collecting samples from families with a wide range of mental health disorders. The center's goal which is being expanded with a $1.2 million stem cell supplement is to increase the repertoire of resources to researchers around the world.
Tischfield says researchers at the new Rutgers-based NIMH Stem Cell Center will use skin or other cells from people with mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, to create stem cells within two to three months that can then become brain cells such as neurons. Up until now, research on the causes and treatment of mental health disorders has been hampered by the fact that brain tissue from someone with the mental disorder was seldom available until they died, a time when brain cells are quickly degrading.
The new method to create stem cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) produces human stem cells that a
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