Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ripe for biomedical applications

12.04.2012
Researchers at the University of Bonn convert skin and umbilical cord cells directly into nerve cells

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. 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."

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)

Photos are available here: https://idw-online.de/de/news471641

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

Prof. Dr. Oliver Brüstle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>