Stem cells are being used in so many new and exciting ways. As knowledge of the human body increases and scientists do more research into stem cells, advanced treatments are being formulated. Surprisingly, researchers are beginning to study the effect of stem cells on the treatment of mental illness. Could there be a cure for mental illness after all?
The First Step
The first step in treating any illness or disorder with stem cells is to understand the part of the body that the illness is affecting. Up until recently, doctors did not fully understand the differences in the brain of a healthy person compared to a mentally ill person. New technology in imaging has helped to clear up the matter, but details sufficient for stem cell treatment have not been identified until recently. Now that scientists understand key genetic markers and brain architecture as it relates to certain mental illnesses, new treatments are going to start becoming available.
Stem cells are starting to be used to treat mental illness. In clinical trials, animals with neurodevelopmental disorders are being injected with stem cells. Studies are ongoing, but results thus far have been promising.
Is It a Cure?
No one really knows if stem cells can be used to cure mental illness. Studies are showing that they may decrease symptoms, but a cure may still be in the offing. Although advancements are being made constantly in the field of patient-derived stem cells, it will likely be quite some time before people with psychiatric disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders are routinely treated with stem cells.