A team of scientists has discovered what could be a novel source for researching and potentially treating Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions involving the destruction of brain cells.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco-affiliated Gladstone Institutes converted skin cells from mice and humans into brain stem cells with the use of a protein called Sox2. Using only this protein to transform the skin cells into neuron stem cells is unusual. Normally, the conversion process is much more complex.
Even Superman needed to retire to a phone booth for a quick change. But now scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in the ultimate switch: transforming mouse skin cells in a laboratory dish directly into functional nerve cells with the application of just three genes. The cells make the change without first becoming a pluripotent type of stem cell — a step long thought to be required for cells to acquire new identities.
The finding could revolutionize the future of human stem cell therapy and recast our understanding of how cells choose and maintain their specialties
Sir Martin Evans
Stem cells could aid in treating muscular sclerosis. Animal experiments have demonstrated that it is possible to stop the aggressive, chronic inflammatory response against the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells, whose destruction leads to the devastating effects of the disease, said Giancarlo Comi, the head of the Experimental Neurology Institute of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University. A three-day meeting, which began in Stresa, on the most recent progress regarding stem cells was opened by Nobel Prize winner Martin Evans and also included some of the most important experts on the subject in the
Scientists at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes have for the first time transformed skin cells — with a single genetic factor — into cells that develop on their own into an interconnected, functional network of brain cells.
The research offers new hope in the fight against many neurological conditions because scientists expect that such a transformation — or reprogramming — of cells may lead to better models for testing drugs for devastating neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
This research comes at a time of renewed focus on Alzheimer’s disease, which currently afflicts 5.4 million people in the United States alone —
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Italian researchers have discovered new stem cells that could be potential sources of ‘spare’ neurons. A study carried out at the University of Verona has led to the discovery of Leptomeningeal Stem Cells (LeSC), a new population of stem cells located in the the meninges, which cover the entire central nervous system in mammals.
LeSCs are immature cells able to maintain themselves and differentiate into mature excitable neurons. This demonstrates that the brain has a greater regenerative capacity than what was believed until now. The results of the study, conducted on an animal model, were