Soares and colleagues launch stem cell study

By Aaron Zapata, Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Jair Soares - Stem Cell Study
Jair Soares, MD, PhD

Jair Soares, MD, PhD, professor and chair for the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is leading a clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy to battle treatment-resistant bipolar depression in conjunction with the UTHealth Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders.

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic high and low moods that can change an individual’s sleep patterns, energy, thinking, and behavior. Those with bipolar disorder can feel happy and energized but just as quickly can fall into a period of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. Some with severe cases have a hard time completing daily tasks such as waking up or even taking a shower.

Soares and his team will conduct a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, utilizing allogenic mesenchymal stem cells as an infusion in bipolar patients, aimed at reducing inflammation – which has been linked to a decreased likelihood of effective treatment for bipolar disorder.

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stem cells found in bone marrow that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues, such as cartilage, bone, and the fat found in bone marrow. These cells show the ability to have a dampening effect on inflammation.

Thirty patients will be enrolled in the trial. Half will be given the cells; the other half will receive a placebo.

“Since mesenchymal stem cells are known to counteract inflammation and promote neurogenesis, we’re hopeful they provide an innovative therapy for patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression,” Soares said. “Depending on the results, these stem cells could reduce mortality associated with the disease.”

Contact Liz Vinson at 713-486-2623 for more information or to enroll in the study.