Scientists in Sweden have managed to reprogram cells


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Tuesday, 07 June 2011
For the first time, a research team in Lund University, Southern Sweden, succeeded in creating a special type of nerve cells directly from human skin without the use of stem cells.
Researchers in Lund have reprogrammed ordinary skin cells to become mature neurons, thereby avoiding the ethical and medical problems associated with the use of stem cells.

“This changes the course fundamentally on how you look at mature cells and its capacity, and what you can do with these mature cells, "said Malin Parmar, head of research and associate professor of neurobiology at the University of Lund, speaking to radio Sweden.

This is one research progress that can be of great importance in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's and stroke. In short, the researchers at Lund University have managed to enable three genes in skin cells, genes that were already known for being active in the formation of new brain cells in the embryonic stage.

The researchers found that skin cells was unexpectedly susceptible to that instructions and managed to create a neuron that produces dopamine, the substance that Parkinson's patients' nerve cells stopped growing. The first reaction of the team was the difficulties to integrate the process but they attempting and finally got a positive result.
“It was found that these cells could be merged,” said Malin Parmar, and agreed that it was a surprising development.

“I think it's a bit surprising that one can go from a skin cell and ten in two, three weeks later to have a functioning dopamine cells. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised, "said Malin Parmar.


Apart from the ethical debates surrounding stem cell research when the use of donated foetal tissue or embryonic stem cells, it has also been shown that transplantation of stem cells may lead to the formation of tumours when the stem cells continue to divide. New technology that reprograms the patient's own mature cells was then required.

This helps avoid those complications as well as the ethical aspects with the new technology that reprograms the patient's own mature cells. That in itself also leads to avoidance of the new cells being repelled at transplantation. Scientists have tested the new cells in animal experiments and the results looks great.

“We have done pilot tests show promising results. These directly reprogrammed neurons can survive a transplant, "said research leader Malin Parmar to radio Sweden.

Olle Lindvall, professor of neurology and the world leader in transplantation of dopamine-producing neurons, sees this research as a breakthrough and very promising.

“My experience out there on the field has taught me that things can move pretty fast. It can certainly take at least three, four, five years before it can be envisaged with this type of cells. But it's a very exciting development and it can go pretty fast, actually, "said Professor Olle Lindvall.
By Team

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