Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Researchers Generate New Neurons in Brains, Spinal Cords of Mammals

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Researchers created new nerve cells without the need of stem cell transplants.

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers created new nerve cells in the brains and spinal cords of living mammals without the need for stem cell transplants to replenish lost cells.

Although the research indicates it may someday be possible to regenerate neurons from the body’s own cells to repair traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers stressed that it is too soon to know whether the neurons created in these initial studies resulted in any functional improvements, a goal for future research.

Spinal cord injuries can lead to an irreversible loss of neurons, and along with scarring, can ultimately lead to impaired motor and sensory functions. Scientists are hopeful that regenerating cells can be an avenue to repair damage, but adult spinal cords have limited ability to produce new neurons. Biomedical scientists have transplanted stem cells to replace neurons, but have faced other hurdles, underscoring the need for new methods of replenishing lost cells.

Scientists in UT Southwestern’s Department of Molecular Biology first successfully turned astrocytes - the most common non-neuronal brain cells - into neurons that formed networks in mice. They now successfully turned scar-forming astrocytes in the spinal cords of adult mice into neurons. The latest findings are published in Nature Communications and follow previous findings published in Nature Cell Biology.

“Our earlier work was the first to clearly show in vivo (in a living animal) that mature astrocytes can be reprogrammed to become functional neurons without the need of cell transplantation. The current study did something similar in the spine, turning scar-forming astrocytes into progenitor cells called neuroblasts that regenerated into neurons,” said Dr. Chun-Li Zhang, assistant professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern and senior author of both studies.

“Astrocytes are abundant and widely distributed both in the brain and in the spinal cord. In response to injury, these cells proliferate and contribute to scar formation. Once a scar has formed, it seals the injured area and creates a mechanical and biochemical barrier to neural regeneration,” Dr. Zhang explained. “Our results indicate that the astrocytes may be ideal targets for in vivo reprogramming.”

The scientists’ two-step approach first introduces a biological substance that regulates the expression of genes, called a transcription factor, into areas of the brain or spinal cord where that factor is not highly expressed in adult mice. Of 12 transcription factors tested, only SOX2 switched fully differentiated, adult astrocytes to an earlier neuronal precursor, or neuroblast, stage of development, Dr. Zhang said.

In the second step, the researchers gave the mice a drug called valproic acid (VPA) that encouraged the survival of the neuroblasts and their maturation (differentiation) into neurons. VPA has been used to treat epilepsy for more than half a century and also is prescribed to treat bipolar disorder and to prevent migraine headaches, he said.

The current study reports neurogenesis (neuron creation) occurred in the spinal cords of both adult and aged (over one-year old) mice of both sexes, although the response was much weaker in the aged mice, Dr. Zhang said. Researchers now are searching for ways to boost the number and speed of neuron creation. Neuroblasts took four weeks to form and eight weeks to mature into neurons, slower than neurogenesis reported in lab dish experiments, so researchers plan to conduct experiments to determine if the slower pace helps the newly generated neurons properly integrate into their environment.

In the spinal cord study, SOX2-induced mature neurons created from reprogramming of astrocytes persisted for 210 days after the start of the experiment, the longest time the researchers examined, he added.

Because tumor growth is a concern when cells are reprogrammed to an earlier stage of development, the researchers followed the mice in the Nature Cell Biology study for nearly a year to look for signs of tumor formation and reported finding none.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Regenerative Medicine Biologists Discover a Cellular Structure that Explains Fate of Stem Cells
The findings are presented in the journal Nature.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Cell that Replenishes Heart Muscle Found by UT Southwestern Researchers
Researchers devise a new cell-tracing technique to detect cells that do replenish themselves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Rare Stem Cells in Testis that Hold Potential for Infertility Treatments Identified
Rare stem cells in testis that produce a biomarker protein called PAX7 help give rise to new sperm cells — and may hold a key to restoring fertility, research by scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests.
Friday, September 05, 2014
Cancer Biologists Link Tumor Suppressor Gene to Stem Cells
The findings appear online in the journal eLife.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Stem Cell Study Opens Door to Undiscovered World of Biology
Discovery published in Nature measures protein production.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Scientists Find that Estrogen Promotes Blood-Forming Stem Cell Function
Research could provide potential opportunities for improved treatment of blood cancers and enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Bone-marrow Environment Helps Fight Infection
Scientists identify bone-marrow environment that leads to production of infection-fighting T and B cells.
Monday, September 16, 2013
UTSW Researchers Identify New Potential Target for Cancer Therapy
Researchers have found that alternative splicing – a process that allows a single gene to code for multiple proteins – appears to be a new potential target for anti-telomerase cancer therapy.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Gene Found that Regenerates Heart Tissue
UT Southwestern researchers identify gene that regenerates heart tissue – critical finding for heart failure prevention.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
UT Southwestern Researchers Identify Mechanism that Maintains Stem Cells
Immune-system receptor maintains stemness of normal adult stem cells and helps leukemia cells growth.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Human Melanomas in Mice Predict Skin Cancer
Spread of human melanoma cells in mice correlates with clinical outcomes in patients, UTSW investigators find.
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Genetic Manipulation Boosts Growth of Brain Cells Linked to Learning
Genetic manipulation enhances effects of antidepressants, UT Southwestern researchers report.
Friday, March 09, 2012
Blood-forming Stem Cells' Growth Identified in First Breakthrough from New Institute
Endothelial and perivascular cells are responsible for nurturing haematopoietic stem cells.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Researchers at UT Southwestern Find Way to Help Donor Adult Blood Stem Cells Overcome Transplant Rejection
The study show that adult blood stem cells can be regulated to overcome an immune response that leads to transplant rejection.
Monday, August 08, 2011
UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Recruit Internationally Renowned Stem Cell Researcher
Dr. Sean Morrison, an internationally recognized leader in adult stem cell research, to lead new pediatric research initiatives.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Scientific News
The Mending Tissue - Cellular Instructions for Tissue Repair
NUS-led collaborative study identifies universal mechanism that explains how tissue shape regulates physiological processes such as wound healing and embryo development.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
iPS Cells Discover Drug Target for Muscle Disease
Researchers have designed a model that reprograms fibroblasts to the early stages of their differentiation into intact muscle cells in a step towards a therapeutic for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Engineered Hot Fat Implants Reduce Weight Gain
Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning “good” fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose levels in mice.
Transplanted Stem Cells Can Benefit Retinal Disease Sufferers
Tests on animal models show that MSCs secrete growth factors that suppress causes of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
MRI Scanners Can Steer Therapeutics to Specific Target Sites
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered MRI scanners, normally used to produce images, can steer cell-based, tumour busting therapies to specific target sites in the body.
Team Finds Early Inflammatory Response Paralyzes T Cells
Findings could have enormous implications for immunotherapy, autoimmune disorders, transplants and other aspects of immunity.
Early Detection of Lung Cancer
The University of Manchester has signed a collaboration agreement with Abcodia to perform proteomics studies on a cohort of non-small cell lung cancer cases from the UKCTOCS biobank, with the aim of discovering new blood-based biomarkers for earlier detection of the disease.
Researchers Identify Drug Candidate for Skin, Hair Regeneration
Formerly undiscovered role of protein may lead to the development of new medications that stimulate hair and skin regeneration in trauma or burn victims.
Basis for New Treatment Options for a Fatal Leukemia in Children Revealed
Detailed molecular analyses allow new insights into the function of tumour cells and options for new treatments.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!