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Biotech Science

Human Skin Cells Converted Directly To Neurons 39

Dr. Eggman writes "Stanford's School of Medicine brings us an update in the latest achievements towards in-vitro neuron generation via redifferentiation of specialized cells (skin cells in this case.) This important progress follows on last year's success in inducing this change with mice skin cells. The importance of this line of research lies in that the process does not need to first de-differentiate the skin cells into a kind of stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells. By skipping this phase, the process avoids potential problems in the body's rejection of the iPS cells. Amazingly, the transformation occurs with the added presence of 4 proteins (one more protein than need to induce the effect in mice) over several weeks (compared to a few days in mice.) Research continues as the study highlights the significant differences in mice and human neural cells as well as the success rate of transformation (2-4% for human cells, 20% for mice.) The resultant cells aren't yet as capable as naturally derived neurons; generating less-robust electrical signals."
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Human Skin Cells Converted Directly To Neurons

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  • I just use purified neuron serum from my victims.
  • So can they turn skin cells directly into any kind of cell, or just neurons? 'Cause I'm thinking the old parody of MAKE.MONEY.FAST might be about to come true.
  • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @10:17AM (#36273040) Homepage Journal

    In the Woody Allen movie, "The Sleeper", the "fearless leader" is recreated from cells cloned from his nose.... it's beginning to look like he was right.

    Next thing we know, we'll find out that nuts are bad for us.

    • Technically, we're not to that point yet and this story is sorta going in the opposed direction. It was a few years ago when we found we could make skin cells revert back to a stem cell like state (induced pluripotent stem cells or IPSC). Pluripotent cells can make any type of cell. That's good for some things, but would not be good for therapy, like repairing a spinal cord injury. You don't want bone cells in your spinal cord. IPSC injected into your body would make teratomas, which are among the wors
  • by Anonymous Coward


    • Well, I don't know if they'd want it, after all they seemed to be working on the perfection of the reverse, converting brain to skin.

  • 5...4...3...2...1
  • I was reading yesterday that there's a lot of cross signaling of growth factors between neurons and their surrounding glial cells such as myelin sheath Schwann cells.

    I wouldn't expect very normal neuron development without the surrounding glial infrastructure they both induce and are influenced by.

    But this is great progress, especially being able to avoid a step where bodily rejection takes place.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      There was an article in Nature a while back in which they showed that you can create microglial cells from stem cells (at least for mice). I know that's not the same as the macroglial cells you're referring to, and it's not as effective as transition directly from skin cells to the desired cells, but it is a step in the right direction.

    • Normally the growth factors would cause a signal at the cell surface that eventually changed the amount of various neuronal genes being expressed.They skipped that step here by using viruses to insert extra copies of the neuronal genes into the skin cells. I should note that the neuronal genes are still present in the skin cells but are being suppressed. What this process does is insert extra, non-suppressed copies of those genes.

      • The summary only mentioning adding four proteins is really misleading then.

        Unless they mean the extra unsuppressed genes from I take it real neuron cells expresses for among other things those additional proteins.

        • They used viruses to add four extra genes in as DNA. This DNA encoded the four proteins they mention. While these genes were already present in the skin cells, they were not active (ie not being used to make Proteins). One way to make the already present versions of the genes active could be adding the right mix of growth factors. Your body really doesnt want this to happen easily though, since it would easily lead to cancer.

          Instead of that, they added in new copies of the genes designed so that they will b

  • What about regular fat cells? "This isn't a spare tire, it's a Beowulf cluster of Brain power!"

    Perhaps it would be a smart replacement for silicone/saline in breast enlargement augmentation?

    It may even give new meaning to: "The sexiest part of you is your Mind."

  • Nature. 2011 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]
    Induction of human neuronal cells by defined transcription factors.
    Pang ZP, Yang N, Vierbuchen T, Ostermeier A, Fuentes DR, Yang TQ, Citri A, Sebastiano V, Marro S, Südhof TC, Wernig M.

    1] Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 265 Campus Drive, Stanford, California 94305, USA [2].

    Somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell fusion, or expression of lineage-specific factors have been shown to induce cell-fat

  • The NERVE of some people! This really gets under my skin!

  • Discussion of producing neural progenitors from both hESC and hiPSC. [] Touches on the different types which can be produced, production methods, and issues faced in production.

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