Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
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

Join For Free

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 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,000+ 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

Scientists Find Lethal Vulnerability in Treatment-Resistant Lung Cancer
The study describes how the drug Selinexor killed lung cancer cells and shrank tumors in mice when used against cancers driven by the aggressive and difficult-to-treat KRAS cancer gene.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Gene Regulation in Brain May Explain Repetitive Behaviors in Rett Syndrome Patients
The research could be a key step in developing treatments to eliminate symptoms that drastically impair the quality of life in Rett patients.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Examining mtDNA May Help Identify Unknown Ancestry That Influences Breast Cancer Risk
Researchers studying mtDNA in a group of triple negative breast cancer patients found that 13 percent of participants were unaware of ancestry that could influence their risk of cancer.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Enhancing Antibiotics to Defeat Resistant Bacteria
Scientists enhance ability of antibiotics to defeat resistant types of bacteria using molecules called PPMOs
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Scientists Enhance Ability of Antibiotics to Defeat Resistant Types of Bacteria
Researchers at UTSW have reported successful use of a synthetic molecule to enhance antibiotic effectiveness against certain pathogens.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Researchers Identify Method of Creating Long-Lasting Memories
Researchers at UTSW have found that the attention-grabbing experiences trigger the release of memory-enhancing chemicals to help etch memories into the brain.
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Novel MRI Technique Distinguishes Healthy Prostate Tissue from Cancer
The UTSW researchers have determined that glucose stimulates release of the zinc ions from inside epithelial cells, which they could then track on MRIs.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Signaling Molecule Regulates Release of the Hunger Hormone Ghrelin
Researchers at UT Southwestern have identified that the blocking release of the hormone ghrelin may mediate low blood sugar effect in children taking beta blockers.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
PARP Proteins Explore Therapeutic Targets in Cancer
Researchers at UTSW have identified a previously unknown role of a certain class of proteins that opens the door to explore therapeutic targets in cancer and other disease.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Innate Immunity Connection to Rare Childhood Disease
Researchers have discovered a gene that's linked to a rare, fatal syndrome in children has an important innate immunity role.
Thursday, August 04, 2016
UT Southwestern Targets Rising Rates of Kidney Cancer
Company has received $11 million in funding to the rising threat of kidney cancer.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
New Mechanism of Tuberculosis Infection
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a new way that tuberculosis bacteria get into the body, revealing a potential therapeutic angle to explore.
Friday, July 22, 2016
New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer.
Friday, July 22, 2016
New Mechanism of Tuberculosis Infection
Researchers have identified a new infection mechanism of tuberculosis that could lead to a new therapeutic angle.
Friday, July 22, 2016
New Method Detects Telomere Length for Research into Cancer, Aging
UT Southwestern Medical Center cell biologists have identified a new method for determining the length of telomeres, the endcaps of chromosomes, which can influence cancer progression and aging.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Scientific News
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
One Step Closer to Precision Medicine for Chronic Lung Disease Sufferers
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and National Jewish Health, has provided evidence of links between SNPs and known COPD blood protein biomarkers.
Charles River Acquires Agilux
Enhances Charles River’s early-stage capabilities in bioanalytical services.
Scientists Find Lethal Vulnerability in Treatment-Resistant Lung Cancer
The study describes how the drug Selinexor killed lung cancer cells and shrank tumors in mice when used against cancers driven by the aggressive and difficult-to-treat KRAS cancer gene.
How Baby’s Genes Influence Birth Weight And Later Life Disease
The large-scale study could help to target new ways of preventing and treating these diseases.
Genes Underlying Dogs’ Social Ability Revealed
The social ability of dogs is affected by genes that also seem to influence human behaviour, according to a new study from Linköping University in Sweden.
Drug to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder Shows Promise Among Drinkers With High Stress
The findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with AUD who also report high levels of stress.
C Dots Show Powerful Tumor Killing Effect
Nanoparticles known as Cornell dots, or C dots, have shown great promise as a therapeutic tool in the detection and treatment of cancer.
Faecal Bacteria Linked to Body Fat
Researchers at King’s College London have found a new link between the diversity of bacteria in human poo – known as the human faecal microbiome - and levels of abdominal body fat.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!