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Stem cells may aid mental health research


Groundbreaking research into mental health is being stalled due to a lack of funding, experts have warned. There has been a call for the Government to increase its £115 million clinical trials budget in order to facilitate further developments in this field.

An example of pioneering mental health research is an ongoing project at Stanford University in California, which has used stem cells to create a “mini-brain” to examine how cells communicate with each other. The aim of this research project is to define the processes involved in schizophrenia, which could have wider implications for many other mental health conditions.

MQ: Transforming Mental Health CEO Cynthia Joyce said: “Current levels of mental health research funding do not do justice to the scale or impact of mental illness.”

Only £9 million is spent a year on research, despite the fact that more than six million Britons experience depression. The UK spends just £9.75 per person with a mental health condition, compared to £1,751 per cancer patient. Mental health problems have been demonstrated as having the single greatest impact on the UK workforce, costing the nation £105 billion a year.

Shadow minister for mental health Luciana Berger said: “We have an excellent reputation for research into a range of physical illnesses, but we must do more to understand further the causes of mental illness.”

According to experts, every £1 spent on mental health research could save £83 from health and social care budgets.

A perfect match is required for stem cell treatment in order to avoid a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs. Stem cells should be removed from baby teeth to avoid deterioration due to age or pollutants. The only painless and non-invasive way to harvest stem cells is from naturally shed teeth.