Recent studies indicate that relevant data can be gathered using accessible human tissues such as blood serum and cells, which can be obtained directly from patients. This is based on the emerging hypothesis, supported by the work of our group and others, that psychiatric disorders are systemic diseases with molecular changes in both the brain and peripheral tissues.
A cellular model which has received recent interest is induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These are produced by genetically reprogramming skin fibroblasts or blood cells from living individuals, who may or may not suffer from a disorder. These reprogrammed cells can then be differentiated into neuronal lineage cells such as neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes or microglia. The differentiated cells are valuable as disease models since they allow in vitro functional exploration of living brain cell material carrying the genomic characteristics of their donor.