Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Healing potential discovered in everyday human brain cells

21.08.2006
Common brain cells may have stem-cell-like potential

University of Florida researchers have shown ordinary human brain cells may share the prized qualities of self-renewal and adaptability normally associated with stem cells.

Writing online today (Aug. 16) in Development, scientists from UF's McKnight Brain Institute describe how they used mature human brain cells taken from epilepsy patients to generate new brain tissue in mice.

Furthermore, they can coax these pedestrian human cells to produce large amounts of new brain cells in culture, with one cell theoretically able to begin a cycle of cell division that does not stop until the cells number about 10 to the 16th power.

"We can theoretically take a single brain cell out of a human being and - with just this one cell - generate enough brain cells to replace every cell of the donor's brain and conceivably those of 50 million other people," said Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., executive director of UF's McKnight Brain Institute. "This is a completely new source of human brain cells that can potentially be used to fight Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and a host of other brain disorders. It would probably only take months to get enough material for a human transplant operation."

The findings document for the first time the ability of common human brain cells to morph into different cell types, a previously unknown characteristic, and are the result of the research team's long-term investigations of adult human stem cells and rodent embryonic stem cells.

Last year, the researchers published details about how they used stem-like brain cells from rodents to duplicate neurogenesis - the process of generating new brain cells - in a dish. The latest findings go further, showing common human brain cells can generate different cell types in cell cultures. In addition, when researchers transplanted these human cells into mice, the cells effectively incorporated in a variety of brain regions.

The human cells were acquired from patients who had undergone surgical treatment for epilepsy and were extracted from support tissue within the gray matter, which is not known for harboring stem cells.

When the donor cells were subjected to a bath of growth agents within cell cultures, a type of cell emerged that behaves like something called a neural progenitor - a cell that is a bit further along in development than a stem cell but shares a stem cell's vaunted ability to divide and transform into different types of brain cells.

Even when the cells from the epilepsy patients were transplanted into mice, bypassing any growth enhancements, they were able to take cues from their surroundings and produce new neurons.

"It was a long and difficult process, but we were able to induce what are basically support cells in the human brain to form beautiful new neurons in a dish," said Noah Walton, a graduate student in the neuroscience department at the UF College of Medicine. "But what we really needed is for these support cells to turn into neurons in the brain, and we found we could get them to do it. Something in the environment in the rodent brain is sufficient to get these cells to become neurons."

Scientists speculate a small amount of existing progenitors may be emerging from the gray matter of the brain and multiplying in torrents, or perhaps the aging clock of the mature cells actually turns backward when the donor cells are in a new environment, returning them to past lives as progenitors or as stem cells.

"It's been shown that the same sorts of tissue from the mouse brain can give rise to rapidly dividing cells, but this shows it is true with human cells," said Ben Barres, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine who was not involved in the research. "That these cells were able to integrate into tissue in an animal model and actually survive - it was extremely important to show that. Now the question is what will these cells do in a human brain? Will they be able to survive for the long term and rebuild circuitry? This work is a first step toward that end."

In addition to using the cells in treatments to repair or replace damaged brain tissue, the ability to massively expand cell populations could prove useful in efforts to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs. It is also possible to genetically modify the cells to produce neurotrophins - substances that help brain tissue survive, researchers said.

John D. Pastor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>