Crucial advance in stem cell research: Human skin cells converted to neural precursor cells
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at The University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research have succeeded in converting human skin cells directly into immature brain cells (or neural precursor cells).
The team, assisted by funding from the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, and the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust , has led the world in developing a fast and efficient means of accomplishing this without having to go through the intermediate stage of conversion to embryonic stem cells.
"This is an advance of huge significance to stem cell research on a global level," says Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Bronwen Connor, who is head of the Neural Repair and Neurogenesis Laboratory at the University. "It has the potential to lead to a new understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
"We are all very excited about it."
A key advantage of this research is that it enables researchers to take skin cells from patients with genetically-linked neurological diseases and use these to create brain cells which will be affected by the disease.
"This helps in gaining understanding of the mechanisms causing the disease. It will allow us to test potential treatments on actual brain tissue", says Associate Professor Connor. "It also takes us further towards the possibility of replacing damaged brain cells."
While teams in top universities in the United States and other parts of the world are also investigating ways of converting skin cells to brain cells, the work of The University of Auckland team is unique.
First, it is the only group to have reprogrammed adult human skin cells. Other groups using this technique are working with cells taken from animals' skin.
Second, the Auckland team is using just two genes for the process of reprogramming from skin cells to neural precursor cells. Other international groups are using between five and 11 genes.
One effect of her team's methods, says Associate Professor Connor, is to speed up the process. The conversion from skin cells to embryonic stem cells and then to neural precursor cells takes four months. If the skin cells are converted directly to neural precursors, this takes one and a half months or 20 days, depending on the type of technology used. The system developed by her team is also very efficient, resulting in a high conversion rate from one cell type to another.
The direct conversion also overcomes a problem of tumour formation which can arise when embryonic stem cells are used.
Associate Professor Connor and her team have for several years been looking at the possibility of using embryonic stem cells to replace brain cells injured through accident or disease. However, as she explains, the very reason for using embryonic stem cells – which is their capacity for making any type of cell in the human body - also brings a problem that has to be overcome before cell replacement can be considered.
"When creating brain cells from embryonic stem cells you have to make sure that all of them are converted. Otherwise the ones that remain can convert to other types of cells, typically cancer cells."
The elimination of this risk through direct conversion from skin cells to neural precursor cells therefore gives a strong boost to the prospect of cell replacement therapy in the future.
The other members of Associate Professor Connor's team are Dr Christof Maucksch, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Auckland, and Dr Mirrella Dottori from the University of Melbourne.
The paper has been published in the Journal of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.
Provided by University of Auckland
- Study: Skin cells turned into stem cells Aug 22, 2005 | not rated yet | 0
- Key innovations in stem-cell technology will advance medicine Apr 25, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- New genetic technique converts skin cells into brain cells Jun 09, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Under the Microscope #12 - Brain cells from skin cells Feb 29, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers Stimulate Growth of Neural Stem Cells in Adult Brain for Treatment of Neurological Disorders Nov 15, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
10 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Every day, their baby stopped breathing, his collapsed bronchus blocking the crucial flow of air to his lungs. April and Bryan Gionfriddo watched helplessly, just praying that somehow the dire predictions ...
Medical research 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
The human gut is loaded with commensal bacteria – "good" microbes that, among other functions, help the body digest food. The gastrointestinal tract contains literally trillions of such cells, and yet the ...
Medical research 5 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Swiss scientists reveal the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria—and dramatically slow it down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young.
Medical research 5 hours ago | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
On May 22, JoVE will publish details of a technique to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patient's age. The method is demonstrated by the laboratory of Dr. Gil Atzmon at New York's Albert Einste ...
Medical research 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have a new theory as to why a woman's fertility declines after her mid-30s. They also suggest an approach that might help slow ...
Medical research 10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Implementation of systematic monitoring for medication adherence will allow for identification of barriers to adherence and tailoring of interventions, according to a viewpoint piece published ...
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—A federal panel of medical experts says that an experimental insomnia drug from Merck & Co Inc. appears safe and effective, despite evidence from company trials that the pill can cause daytime sleepiness and difficulty ...
2 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—The American Cancer Society, which is celebrating on Wednesday a century of fighting a disease once viewed as a death sentence, is making a pledge to put itself out of business.
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) investigators also conclude that the 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) versus chest X-ray (CXR) screening previously reported in the ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
As the world prepares for what may be the next pandemic strain of influenza virus, in the H7N9 bird flu, a new UC Irvine study reveals that the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic was deadliest for people under the age of 65, while ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0