Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers convert skin and umbilical cord cells directly into nerve cell

11.04.2012
Until recently, the production of pluripotent “multipurpose” stem cells from skin cells was considered to be the ultimate new development.

In the meantime, it has become possible to directly convert cells of the body into one another – without the time-consuming detour via a pluripotent intermediate stage.


Nerve cells made from skin cells: The cells have been dyed green by means of an antibody. The cell nucleus attains a blue color. Photo: Julia Ladewig/Uni Bonn


Nerve cells made from skin cells: The cells have been dyed green and red by means of an antibody.
Photo: Julia Ladewig/Uni Bonn

However, this method has so far been rather inefficient. Scientists from the Bonn Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology (director: Prof. Dr. Oliver Brüstle) have now developed the method to the point that it can be used for biomedical applications. The scientists are presenting their results in the journal “Nature Methods“.

There was much excitement surrounding cell reprogramming with the breakthrough of Shinya Yamanaka. In 2006, the Japanese scientist was able to reprogram skin cells for the first time with the aid of a few control factors into so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) – “multipurpose” cells from which all body cells can in principle be produced.

In 2010, Marius Wernig, a former postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Brüstle and meanwhile the director of the institute at Stanford University in California, developed the idea further: Using only three so-called transcription factors, his team was able to perform direct transformation of skin cells into so-called induced neurons (iN). However, the method has so far been rather inefficient: Only a small percentage of the skin cells were converted into the desired nerve cells.

Researchers are increasing yields during transformation of cells

For the scientists at the LIFE & BRAIN Center at the University of Bonn, that was not enough. They are interested in the biomedical utilization of artificially produced human nerve cells for disease research, cell replacement, and the development of active substances. One concept seemed likely: Why not use low-molecular active substances - so-called small molecules - to optimize the process? Julia Ladewig, post-doctoral researcher and lead author of the study, began using such active substances to influence several signaling pathways important for cell development.

By blocking the so-called SMAD signaling pathway and inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3ß), they increased the transformational efficiency by several times – and were thus able to even simplify the means of extraction. Using only two instead of previously three transcription factors and three active substances, the Bonn researchers were able to convert a majority of the skin cells into neurons. In the end, their cell cultures contained up to more than 80% human neurons. And since the cells divide even further during the conversion process, the actual efficiency is even higher.

Two nerve cells are produced from one skin cell

“We can obtain up to more than 200,000 nerve cells converted in this way from 100,000 skin cells,“ says Julia Ladewig. In order to find the right combination of active substances, the Bonn scientists are focusing on signaling pathways which are especially important for cell specialization. “The SMAD signaling pathway and also GSK3ß were suspected of inhibiting the conversion of connective tissue cells and pluripotent stem cells into neural cells. The obvious step was to block both of them using corresponding active substances,” says Philipp Koch, team leader and senior author responsible for the study, together with Prof. Brüstle. The results were intriguing: “We were able to demonstrate how the genes typical for skin fibroblast were gradually down-regulated and nerve-cell-specific genes were activated during the cell transformation. In addition, the nerve cells thus obtained were functionally active, which also makes them interesting as a source for cell replacement,” says Ladewig.

Scientists are now transferring the method to other types of cells

The Bonn scientists have already transferred the method to other types of cells such as, for example, umbilical cord cells. Brüstle clearly foresees the next steps: “First of all, we want to use nerve cells obtained in this way for disease and active substance research. The long-term goal will be to convert cells directly in the body into nerve cells.”

Publication: Ladewig, J., Mertens, J., Kesavan, J., Doerr, J., Poppe, D., Glaue, F., Herms, S., Wernet, P., Kögler, G., Müller, F.-J., Koch, P., Brüstle, O. (2012) Small molecules enable highly efficient neuronal conversion of human fibroblasts. Nature Methods (DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1972)

Contact Information:

Dr. Philipp Koch & Prof. Dr. Oliver Brüstle
Institut of Reconstructive Neurobiology
LIFE & BRAIN Center
University of Bonn
Telephone: +49-228-6885-500
E-Mail: r.neuro@uni-bonn.de

Dr. Andreas Archut | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

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

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>