By adding two different molecules, the researchers have discovered a surprisingly simple way of starting the stem cells’ journey to become finished brain cells. The process mimics the brain’s natural development by releasing signals that are part of the normal development process. Experiments in animal models have shown that the cells quickly adapt in the brain and behave like normal brain cells.
“This technique allows us to fine-tune our steering of stem cells to different types of brain cells. Previous studies have not always used the signals that are activated during the brain’s normal development. This has caused the transplanted cells to develop tumours or function poorly in the brain”, says Agnete Kirkeby, one of the authors of the study.
Since the method effectively imitates the brain’s own processes, it reduces the risk of tumour formation, one of the most common obstacles in stem cell research. The quick, simple technique makes the cells mature faster, which both makes the transplant safer and helps the cells integrate better into the brain. The results of the study bring stem cell research closer to transplant trials in the human brain.
“We have used the new protocol to make dopamine neurons, the type of neuron that is affected by Parkinson’s disease, and for the first time, we are seriously talking about these cells as being good enough to move forward for transplantation in patients. The next step is to test the process on a larger scale and to carry out more pre-clinical safety tests”, explains Malin Parmar, research team leader.
The research is presented in the report ‘Generation of regionally specified neural progenitors and functional neurons from human embryonic stem cells under defined conditions’ in the journal Cell Reports.
The study has been conducted as part of the EU 7th Framework Programme project NeuroStemcell.
Ingemar Björklund | idw
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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