Scientists turn skin cells into brain cells

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-06-skin-cells-brain-lab.html

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scientists at the 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 figure expected to nearly triple by 2050. Yet there are no approved medications to prevent or reverse the progression of this debilitating disease.

In findings appearing online today in Cell Stem Cell, researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Investigator Yadong Huang, MD, PhD, describe how they transferred a single gene called Sox2 into both mouse and human skin cells. Within days the skin cells transformed into early-stage , also called induced  (iNSCs). These iNSCs began to self-renew, soon maturing into neurons capable of transmitting . Within a month, the neurons had developed into neural networks.

 

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