Researchers studying mice in California were able to transform skin cells into cells which grow into the main sections of the brain. The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the results, the experiment skipped the middle stem cell stage. The researchers stated that the discovery is very important, as it could lead to lots of medical uses in the future. The researchers would need to conduct additional tests in order to be able to use the procedure on human skin.
The Stem Cells Have Various Functions
The stem cells are considered to be very useful for various purposes. The researchers want to use them for the people who suffer of blindness, and for the ones who suffered from strokes. The problem is that it can be quite difficult to obtain the stem cells. It was debated for a long period of time whether to use embryonic stem cells, but there were lots of people against it. Another method would be to take skin cells and use them as stem cells, to reprogram them if you will. This is not a valid option either, because once that is done, the cancer-causing genes from the cells become active as well.
The new method is very promising, as it implies collecting skin cells and turning them into specialist cells. Through this method, the creation of stem cells is not required. The researchers of the study from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California believe that their discovery could have lots of potential.
The study was able to develop neural precursor cells, which have the potential of becoming one of three types of brain cells: oligodendrocytes, neurons, and astrocytes. Once these cells are created, they can be grown into larger numbers. In case they are required in therapy, the doctors can use them with much ease. They are easy to make, and they could be very useful in various situations. Both the brain and the skin cells contain the same genetic information. The genetic code is interpreted in a different manner in each, though.
Cells Could Have a Huge Importance
The researchers used a virus in order to transform the skin cells into acting or evolving into brain cells. The transformation occurred in less than ten weeks. Prof Marius Wernig, the lead researcher of the study stated that he and his colleagues are very thrilled about the discovery, stating that the cells could be used in numerous instances. They could be inserted in the brain, and once they are there, the brain cells could send signals to neurons. This means that they could help disabled people, or those who have memory problems.
The potential is huge, but further research is required. The areas from the brain could be restored in case of an illness. On top of that, the researchers could find ways of converting other cells into becoming useful for other parts of the body. Some of them could be used for the heart, or for the liver, and so on.