LivingConvert human skin cells into neurons

Convert human skin cells into neurons

neuronas-facebookScientists from Stanford University, in the United States, have achievedturn skin cells into active neuronsadding four proteins to them, through a process that lasts from four to five weeks, according to the results of research publishedNature. The finding is significant since “the need to first create induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS, is avoided,” the authors explain.

After successfully testing the technique in laboratory mice, the researchers decided to work with human cells to see that they could “convert” embryonic stem cells into neurons by infecting them with a virus that expressed the same combination of proteins:transcription factors Brn2, Ascl1 and Myt1l. This first step, which the scientists knew as ‘BAM’ (acronym for the three proteins), allowed them to obtain neurons in just six days.

They then tried to find out if they could get the same results from skin cells.In the first experiments with fetal or newborn skin cellsobserved that, although they made stem cells look like neurons, they wereunable to generate electrical signalsthat neurons use to communicate with each other. Adding to the combination ‘BAM’a fourth transcription factor, known as NeuroD, they achieved that, after five weeks, the stem cells became fully active neurons that could interact with each other.

However, experts recognize that although about 20 percent of mouse skin cells can transform into neurons directly, in the case of humans this percentage is much lower, between 2 to 4 percent of the cells. human skin cells according to current cell culture systems.

“Now we are much closer to being ablemimic neurological diseases in the laboratory“explained Marius Wernig, assistant professor at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and one of the study’s authors, even suggesting that” its use in human therapies could be achieved in the future. “

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