Brain cells created from skin cells

Posted on Sunday, June 5th, 2011 in Life Insurance

US Scientists have successfully developed a procedure to create fully fully functioning human brain cells. This procedure had previously been demonstrated in mice, but the latest research has solidified the evidence and proves that it can be replicated in humans.

By manipulating the DNA in the growth of new skin cells, a team of scientists from California have successfully created new cells which behave like neurons.

The scientists introduced a genetically modified virus into foetal skin cells. As a result, a small portion of the cells are then transformed into nerve cells. Similar processes exist which first transform the skin cells into stem cells, but this new process is a more direct way of creating neurons.

This process has now demonstrated that it is possible to redirect the way in which a cell develops, rather than just reversing the development of new cells.

The immediate application of this new process is expected to be in modelling diseases. Due to the difficult nature of examining the human brain, most research into diseases at a molecular level is done after a patient has died. The new process will enable new research into how diseases develop in their earlier stages.

An assistant researcher on the project, Professor Marius Warnig, believes that one day the technique could be used to treat patients with neurological conditions. Cells could be created from the patients own skin and transplanted to their brain. However, researchers are keen to stress that this development is some way in the future.

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