Stem cells help evaluate experimental Alzheimer’s drugs

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Scientists at the University of California – San Diego are using adult stem cells in a new and inventive way. Dr. Shauna Yuan and her team of researchers are using stem cells to create neurons with the characteristics of Alzheimer’s in order to test the effects of experimental drugs for the disease. This use of stem cells is historic, as most drug testing first begins on animals. However, animal testing does not always produce results that accurately predict what will happen to a drug when used on a person living with Alzheimer’s. Lab animals do not contract these types of neurological diseases naturally, therefore when a scientist genetically engineers Alzheimer’s into mice, the disease does not perfectly translate what exactly would happen in humans. Dr. Yuan and her team are focused on using mesenchymal stem cells for this study and hope that this research will potentially help scientists more quickly identify which compounds work for creating an effective Alzheimer’s drug.

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