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.
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 —
A novel pathway of stem cell activity in human brain that represents potential targets of brain injuries affecting newborns has been identified by researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The recent study, which raises new questions of how the brain evolves, is published in the current issue of Nature, one of the world’s most cited scientific journals.
Nader Sanai, MD, director of Barrow’s Brain Tumor Research Center, led this study, which is the first developmental study of human neural stem cells in a region of the brain called the subventricular zone, the tissue structure
Scientists at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes and an international team of researchers have generated a human model of Huntington’s disease — directly from the skin cells of patients with the disease.
For years, scientists have studied Huntington’s disease primarily in post-mortem brain tissue or laboratory animals modified to mimic the disease. Today, in Cell Stem Cell, the international team shows how they developed a human model of Huntington’s disease, which causes a diverse range of neurological impairments. The new model should help scientists better understand the development of Huntington’s — and provide better ways to identify and screen potential therapeutics
Mouse skin cells can be converted directly into cells that become the three main parts of the nervous system, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding is an extension of a previous study by the same group showing that mouse and human skin cells can be directly converted into functional neurons.
The multiple successes of the direct conversion method could refute the idea that pluripotency (a term that describes the ability of stem cells to become nearly any cell in the body) is necessary for a cell to transform from one cell type to another.