Wednesday, April 10, 2013

neural cells from monkey skin work in brain

For the first time, scientists have transplanted neural cells derived from a monkey’s skin into its brain and watched the cells develop into several types of mature brain cells, according to the authors of a new study in Cell Reports. After six months, the cells looked entirely normal, and were only detectable because they initially were tagged with a fluorescent protein.

Because the cells were derived from adult cells in each monkey’s skin, the experiment is a proof-of-principle for the concept of personalized medicine, where treatments are designed for each individual.

And since the skin cells were not “foreign” tissue, there were no signs of immune rejection – potentially a major problem with cell transplants. “When you look at the brain, you cannot tell that it is a graft,” says senior author Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Structurally the host brain looks like a normal brain; the graft can only be seen under the fluorescent microscope.”

Marina Emborg, an associate professor of medical physics at UW-Madison and the lead co-author of the study, says, “This is the first time I saw, in a nonhuman primate, that the transplanted cells were so well integrated, with such a minimal reaction. And after six months, to see no scar, that was the best part.”

Zhang, who was the first in the world to derive neural cells from embryonic stem cells and then iPS cells, says one key to success was precise control over the development process. “We differentiate the stem cells only into neural cells. It would not work to transplant a cell population contaminated by non-neural cells.”

“By taking cells from the animal and returning them in a new form to the same animal, this is a first step toward personalised medicine.  Now we want to move ahead and see if this leads to a real treatment for this awful disease.”

1 comment:

  1. This is a major step in the medical field. If personalized medicine can be perfected, then patients could be taken care of more efficiently and more lives could be saved. If we could analyze each patient’s genes, then we could also determine what drugs would work best for their body and illness. Personalized medicine has a lot of potential and could possibly save patients money on unnecessary drugs and treatments. Although this post focuses more on introducing cells from the same organism into different areas of the body, it is still an area of personalized medicine that could help save lives.