Stem Cell Stage bypassed by Scientist

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, converted cells from mouse skin into neural precursor cells, bypassing stem cell stage. Neural precursor cells are those cells that later develop into three main types of cells that are found in the brain and the nervous system. This report was published online in the early online January 30th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study has questioned the old belief that the ability to become any other cell of the body, a characteristic of the stem cells called as pluripotency, is necessary in order to change from one cell type to another.

In an earlier study, the same team of researchers converted the cells of mouse and the humans directly into functional neurons. However, the more recent study of the two mentioned is a substantial advance over the earlier one. This is because of two reasons. Firstly, because neural precursors cannot only become functional neurons, they can also become oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, the other two major types of cells found in the central nervous system. Oligodendrocytes, facilitates the transmission of signals while Astrocytes are star shaped kind of maintenance cells of the neurons.
Stem cell stage

Secondly, the neural precursors are more useful for the lab and are more versatile end products as the cultivation of these cells in large number is possible either for transplantation or for drug screening. The two studies together have increased the possibility that induced pluripotency and embryonic stem cell research both could be replaced by a method that is more direct in approach Dr Marius Wernig, who is an assistant professor of pathology and a member of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, is the senior author of the study. He told the press, “My colleagues and I are thrilled about the medical potential of our findings.”

“We’ve shown the cells can integrate into a mouse brain and produce a missing protein important for the conduction of electrical signal by the neurons. This is important because the mouse model we used mimics that of a human genetic brain disease,” Wernig said. Although, he warned by saying that more research work is required before they can show that a similar conversion of cells taken from the humans is possible. Moreover, the conversion of cells should not only be effective enough, but it should also be safe at all costs.

Stem Cell Stage bypassed by Scientist
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