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Stem Cells: Rewiring the Brain with Reprogrammed Neurons

Dec 21, 2015 1:00:04 PM / by Shweta

 Direct lineage reprogramming of a neuron in vivo. Image credit: cells may have a solution to rebuild defective neural communication in vivo

It has been already established that stem cells have tremendous therapeutic potential. Scientists are now exploiting stem cells to break the concept that the nervous system cannot regenerate. The plasticity of stem cells very well allows them to generate, repair, and change nervous system function.

Many attempts have been made to generate neurons ex-vivo, and then implant them into patients’ brains. Recently, researchers at Harvard Stem Cells Institute showed that it is possible to reprogram neurons in vivo Instead of making neurons in a dish from stem cells [1].

Professor Paola Arlotta, in collaboration with Takao Hensch, reprogrammed one type of excitatory neuron into another type. This preliminary work has been done in the brains of young mice, since they are most plastic than adult brains. The have further plans to reprogram neurons and circuits in older brains. They found that inhibitory neurons would recognize the reprogrammed excitatory neurons as new cells and adapt their circuitry accordingly. Their results clearly show that neurons can be successfully reprogrammed into another type of cell within the brain. The neighboring neurons will interact with the reprogrammed cells and communicate with them as if these cells were new. This unique interaction would create a new circuit appropriate for their ‘new’ neuronal target.

The important finding has implications for both basic and translational biology. It provides a sound understanding of how neurons choose their synaptic partners when circuits wire during early development, and for developing strategies to change defective communication in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism.

We at HemaCare admire groundbreaking work that seeks to unravel the many-fold mysteries of the brain. HemaCare is a leading global provider of different kinds of stem cells for advanced biomedical research and clinical needs in accordance with quality and regulatory compliance.


[1] Zhanlei Ye, Mohammed A. Mostajo-Radji, Juliana R. Brown, Caroline Rouaux, Giulio Srubek Tomassy, Takao K. Hensch, Paola Arlotta. Instructing Perisomatic Inhibition by Direct Lineage Reprogramming of Neocortical Projection Neurons. Neuron, Volume 88, Issue 3, p475–483, 4 November 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.10.006

Topics: nervous system, neurons, Stem Cells, Basic Research


Written by Shweta

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