Skip to comments.Making Brain Cells (Stem Cell Research Advance)
Posted on 03/29/2005 5:39:45 PM PST by Founding Father
Making Brain Cells
Scientists have announced they've found a way to coax adult hair follicle stem cells into becoming brain cells.
Scientists at AntiCancer, Inc. of San Diego have coaxed adult stem cells in mice into turning into neurons, the nerve cells of the brain. Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors say, the results of their work suggests a new "source of undifferentiated multi-potent stem cells."
Stem cells are different from other cells because they can change into specialized cells the body needs, the body maintain and repair itself. Many scientists are working to grow tissue from adult stem cells in order to avoid the ethical and legal controversies surrounding embryonic stem cells. In hair follicles, stem cells are found in a small bulge on the side of the hair follicle. They used to help the follicle maintain itself.
"By luck," is how AntiCancer President Robert Hoffman describes finding the link between hair follicle stem cells and the brain. He shows off a hairless mouse that's at the center of the research. Under special light it glows bright green, like a child's toy.
"What we wanted to do was image the stem cells in the brain," Hoffman explains. To do that they used a gene that makes jellyfish glow under fluorescent light. By linking the gene to a protein called "nestin" which is a protein in brain cells. Hoffman says the then put the mouse into an imager, "hoping to see the brain." Instead, he says, "all we could see was the green fluorescence of the skin. So we know that nestin must be expressed in the skin because the green fluorescent protein was expressed and they're linked. When they saw that the hair follicles were glowing brightly Hoffman says, "we knew at that point that there was a relationship between the stem cells of the hair follicle and the stem cells of the brain."
The next steps would be to better understand and isolate the hair follicle stem cells, and then move on to the tricky part of trying to actually grow these stem cells in the lab. "We put them in culture," says Hoffman, "and under conditions where brain stem cells would form neurons, the hair follicle stem cells also formed neurons. We also injected some of these stem cells into the skin of mice and they formed neurons there, too."
Hoffman says there are important implications to his company's discovery. He says, "If this turns out to be easy to do and we can make lots of stem cells and grow them and have a large amount of them and they readily form neurons in vivo
by Jack Penland
Don't forget this announcement from Australia, where scientists at Griffith University are finding that the stem cells from the receptors in the nasal mucosa are amenable to differentiation to other cell lines and self-replicating.
Here's the Abstract from the original article (costs $25 to access the actual article and I promised not to publish it when I bought it, but the abstract and the CNN article ought to be sufficient unless you need to argue with a scientist.).
Dev Dyn. 2005 Mar 21; [Epub ahead of print]
Multipotent stem cells from adult olfactory mucosa.
Murrell W, Feron F, Wetzig A, Cameron N, Splatt K, Bellette B, Bianco J, Perry
C, Lee G, Mackay-Sim A.
Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies, Griffith University,
Multipotent stem cells are thought to be responsible for the generation of new
neurons in the adult brain. Neurogenesis also occurs in an accessible part of
the nervous system, the olfactory mucosa. We show here that cells from human
olfactory mucosa generate neurospheres that are multipotent in vitro and when transplanted into the chicken embryo. Cloned neurosphere cells show this multipotency. Multipotency was evident without prior culture in vitro: cells dissociated from adult rat olfactory mucosa generate leukocytes when transplanted into bone marrow-irradiated hosts, and cells dissociated from adult mouse olfactory epithelium generated numerous cell types when transplanted into the chicken embryo. It is unlikely that these results can be attributed to hematopoietic precursor contamination or cell fusion. These results demonstrate the existence of a multipotent stem-like cell in the olfactory mucosa useful for autologous transplantation therapies and for cellular studies of disease.
Developmental Dynamics, 2005. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMID: 15782416 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
I wonder, if we could convince those desiring to cannibalize embryos for their body parts (their stem cells) that they are in fact playing god more by manipulating the stem cells from an individual's own body into the tissues needed, would these same 'enlightened' cannibals turn to adult stem cell research?
I think this is just more proof that the issue of embryonic stem cells is political, not scientific. The most promising research comes from adult stem cells, but the money gets diverted to embryonic cell research.
From a scientific point of view, it makes no sense (unless, of course, you are the researcher getting the funds)
BOSTON -- Despite a veto threat from the governor, the state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday to give scientists more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts.
The 35-2 vote came after less than two hours of debate, on the same day Gov. Mitt Romney launched a statewide radio campaign to urge the bill's defeat.
The Republican governor has promised to veto the measure, which would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.