July 11, 2004
Adult Skin Cells Turned Into Neural Stem Cells

Better Humans reports on research by Siddharthan Chandran of the University of Cambridge, UK Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair on the use of a mix of growth factors to successfully turn skin cells into neural stem cells.

This resulted in large numbers of nestin-positive neural precursors.

"The generation of almost limitless numbers of neural precursors from a readily accessible, autologous adult human source provides a platform for further experimental studies and has potential therapeutic implications," say the researchers.

The presence of nestin protein is generally seen as an indicator that a cell type has become a neural stem cell. But that indicator alone is not a certain measure of success. Other cases of seeming success with stem cell transformation have been thrown into question with the use of more sensitive means of measuring cell state (though if you click thru on that you will see even in that case the more sensitive means did not absolutely disprove the original result because cell culture media vary too much in composition in unknown and uncontrollable ways between lots). However, Chandran's team may really have succeeded in doing what they have reported.

My take on all this is that what Chandran is trying to do is at least theoretically possible. One does not always have to start with embryonic stem cells to get cells to differentiate (specialize) into any desired type. Systematic searches for compounds that turn more specialized cells into less specialized cells have turned up promising compounds for making stem cells from fully differentiated adult cells. Expect to see many more such reports.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 July 11 01:21 PM  Biotech Organ Replacement

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