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McLean researcher

Sangmi Chung: Translational Stem Cell Neurobiology Laboratory

With the aim of developing novel treatments, the Translational Stem Cell Neurobiology Laboratory, founded in 2015, studies brain disorders such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and autism in which inhibitory interneurons, a type of neuron that functions to inhibit other neurons, are abnormal.

To find a better way to treat schizophrenia, we seek to understand what goes wrong in diseased neurons. Using inhibitory interneurons from stem cells that are made from schizophrenia patients’ skin cells, we are studying these patient neurons to find out the cause of the abnormalities. This study could lead to novel and more effective therapies for schizophrenia.

One in 25 people experience a seizure at some point in their life and 30% of them have seizures that cannot be treated with anti-seizure medication, presenting a pressing need for the development of new and more effective treatments. We have shown that transplantation of stem cell-derived interneurons effectively reduces seizures and other brain abnormalities. We are further developing this novel treatment using animal models of epilepsy.