Discovery may improve Alzheimer's treatment
A discovery may enable scientists to convert specific cells into neurons or brain cells, opening the way to substantially better therapies for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
"This work aims at converting into neurons cells that are present throughout the brain (pericytes) but themselves are not nerve cells," said Benedikt Berninger of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.
"The ultimate goal we have in mind is that this may one day enable us to induce such conversion within the brain itself and thus provide a novel strategy for repairing the injured or diseased brain," the journal Cell Stem Cell reports.
"Now, we reason, if we could target these cells and entice them to make nerve cells, we could take advantage of this injury response," Berninger said, according to a Johannes Gutenberg statement.
Further testing showed that those newly converted neurons could produce electrical signals and reach out to other neurons, providing evidence that the converted cells could integrate into neural networks.