Coast to Coast and Around the World

Through our Internet Service Center we are able to serve customers no matter where they live. Visit our Internet Service Center or call us at 239.591.4565 or email us

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Skin cells turned directly into neurons - Benefits degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson's or those with spinal injuries.

Skin cells turned directly into neurons
By Clive Cookson

Published: January 28 2010 02:00 Last updated: January 28 2010 02:00

Stem cell scientists at Stanford University in California announced "a huge step forward" last night, with the publication of research that turned skin into nerve cells without any intermediate step.

The production of neurons [nerve cells] directly from other adult cells, without making stem cells en route, could transform "regenerative medicine" - providing a plentiful supply of neurons for treating people with degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson's or those with spinal injuries.
"We actively and directly induced one cell type to become a completely different cell type," said Marius Wernig of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "These are fully functional neurons. They can do all the principal things that neurons in the brain do."

This includes making connections with and signalling to other nerve cells - critical functions if the cells are eventually to be used as therapy for brain disease. The study is published online in the journal Nature .

Although research had suggested that specialised cells could be coaxed to show properties of other cell types, this is the first time skin cells have been converted into neurons in a laboratory.

The change happened within a week of treating mouse skin cells with a mixture of three genes, with an efficiency of up to nearly 20 per cent. The scientists are now working to duplicate the feat with human cells.

Until recently, scientists believed cellular differentiation was a one-way process, with primitive and versatile embryonic stem cells giving rise to all the body's more specialised cells.

Then, in 2007 they discovered how to turn the clock back, reversing the specialisation process by converting adult cells to "induced pluripotent stem cells", which could then become a different type of cell.

The latest discovery shows that this intermediate step is unnecessary. But many years of work will be needed before direct conversion reaches the clinic.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

No comments:

Post a Comment