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Prechter Tam Seminar - Characterization of Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes and Their Impact on Recipient Cells

Bipolar disorder is a condition that involves the human brain. There is no easy access to brain tissue from living people. Using induced pluripotent stem cells offers the first opportunity to model the activity of brain and nerve cells from individuals with bipolar disorder. Samples from skin are ‘induced’ to form pluripotent stem cells that can subsequently be prompted to grow into nerve cells. Shortly after this technology was developed, the Prechter Bipolar Research Program expanded to include Sue O’Shea, PhD, Professor, in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology who works on pluripotent stem cells. Individuals with a history of bipolar disorder and non-bipolar controls provided skin samples that were grown into stem cells and then nerve cells. Over the past decade this work has expanded to include a multisite collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, the Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Institute, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Several significant findings have included the consistent characteristic of premature excitability of nerve cells derived from individuals with bipolar disorder, the abnormal behaviors of astrocytes, and the apparent dysfunction of exosomes. These patterns are leading towards the identification of target pathways that may be suitable for pharmaceutical intervention.