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ReNeuron Stem Cell Line Used to Demonstrate How Anti-depressants Make New Brain Cells

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ReNeuron Group plc has announced that one of its human neural stem cell lines has been used by academic researchers to show for the first time in a clinically relevant model how anti-depressant drugs make new brain cells.

In a study published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London used ReNeuron’s human hippocampal stem cells as a new model to investigate “in a dish” the effects of anti-depressants on brain cells.

The study showed that anti-depressants produce more stem cells and accelerate their development into adult brain cells. This process is due to a protein in the cell, the glucocorticoid receptor, being activated by the anti-depressants, switching on particular genes that turn immature stem cells into mature, adult brain cells.

By stimulating this process of neurogenesis (the production of new brain cells), anti-depressants counteract the damaging effects of stress hormones which are elevated in depressed patients and thereby help to overcome the debilitating psychological symptoms of depression.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is expected to be the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease by the year 2020. The novel stem cell system used in this study can be deployed in the future to model psychiatric illnesses in the laboratory and thereby assist in the development of more effective, targeted anti-depressant drugs.

John Sinden, Chief Scientific Officer of ReNeuron, said: “We are pleased that yet another candidate in ReNeuron’s library of neural stem cell lines is showing its potential, either as a cell-based therapeutic or as a model of disease to assist in the development of conventional drug therapeutics. Through its various academic and industrial collaborations, ReNeuron is well-placed to exploit the scientific and commercial potential of its stem cell assets in both of these applications.”