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

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 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,700+ 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

CRI Identifies Emergency Blood-formation Response
Researchers report that when tissue damage occurs, an emergency blood-formation system activates.
Friday, November 20, 2015
CRI Scientists See Through Bones
Findings uncover new details about blood-forming stem cells.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
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
Scientific News
Lasers Carve the Path to Tissue Engineering
A new technique, developed at EPFL, combines microfluidics and lasers to guide cells in 3D space, overcoming major limitations to tissue engineering.
New Therapy Treats Autoimmune Disease Without Harming Normal Immunity
Preclinical study from Penn shows that engineered T cells can selectively target the antibody-producing cells that cause autoimmune disease.
Harnessing An Innate Repair Mechanism Enhances The Success Of Retinal Transplantation
Cross-species research in flies and mice could help solve a major roadblock to successful stem cell replacement therapies in degenerative diseases of the retina, including age-related macular degeneration.
A New Way Out for Stem Cells
Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered that therapeutic stem cells exit the bloodstream in a different manner than was previously thought.
Manufactured Stem Cells To Advance Clinical Research
Clinical-grade cell line will enable development of new therapies and accelerate early-stage clinical research.
Starving Stem Cells May Enable Scientists To Build Better Blood Vessels
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have uncovered how changes in metabolism of human embryonic stem cells help coax them to mature into specific cell types — and may improve their function in engineered organs or tissues.
Long-Term Culturing of Adult Stem Cells
A new procedure developed by Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers (HSCI) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) may revolutionize the culturing of adult stem cells.
Naked Mole Rat Exhibits “Extraordinary” Cancer Resistance
Scientists are getting closer to understanding the anti-cancer mechanism of the naked mole rat by making induced pluripotent stem cells.
Solutions for Biotherapeutic Characterization
Innovation to speed the routine.
Reclaiming The Immune System's Assault On Tumors
EPFL study shows a way to reclaim corrupted immune cells.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!