Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions can all be treated with the help of antidepressants.
To investigate the effects of drugs on the development of fetal brains, Brazilian researchers propose carrying out experiments with mini-brains grown in the laboratory.
Although antidepressants can help most women feel better, we don’t know much about how they affect the brain development of fetuses.
“The majority of the publications that we looked at were reports of observational surveys and laboratory studies using cell cultures and animals, whose brain development is very different from that of humans. According to neuroscientist Alexandre Kihara, a researcher at the Neurogenetics Laboratory of the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC) in So Bernardo do Campo, So Paulo state, “they don’t offer sufficient data to justify conclusive results.”
Luciana Rafagnin Marinho, a UFABC researcher with doctoral and postdoctoral qualifications in epigenetics, in vitro embryo production, and animal reproduction, stated, “We propose an experimental trial model involving human-induced pluripotent stem cells [hiPSC] to investigate what happens to develop fetal nerve cells in pregnant women during treatment with antidepressants.”
Human-induced pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into brain organoids (also known as “mini-brains”), which researchers hope to use in studies of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as the testing of drugs that have an effect on the nervous system.
Muotri is a neuroscientist who works at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in the United States.
He is in charge of a genetics lab that was the first to create brain organoids for studying autism and other neurological disorders. Additionally, he is a co-founder of the Brazilian biotech startup Tismoo.
He explained, “We can study the organoids for up to a year, and we can observe aspects of their development like the morphology and electrophysiology of individual neurons or neural networks.”
Marinho mentioned the one study out of more than 100 covered by the review that used brain organoids as an example of the potential advancements.
The researchers point out that research with organoids makes use of whole-genome sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and single-cell RNA sequencing. Progenitor cells, glial cells, and neurons are just a few of the different cell types that can be studied through this technology.
We are not opposing the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. Kihara stated, “We are proposing an experimental model and stressing the need to study their effects on neurodevelopment with the most advanced resources available in order to manage potential alterations.”
Public by world news spot live