Bone marrow stem cells 'can be turned directly into brain cells'

A new method of transforming bone marrow stem cells directly into brain cells has been developed in the US.The existing method of turning marrow cells into a different type of cell is currently extremely dangerous, complex and not practical to implement away from a laboratory.

However, specialists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) believe they have developed a process that overcomes these issues, which involves using lab-grown antibodies to activate a growth-stimulating receptor on marrow cells.Professor Richard Lerner, principal investigator on the study, commented: "This is a far cry from the way antibodies used to be thought of - as molecules that were selected simply for binding and not function."

He added that the findings demonstrate the potential of antibodies as "versatile manipulators of cellular functions".This comes after researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison managed to turn human embryonic stem cells into nerve cells that helped resolve neurological problems in mice.

American football players are to be involved in a study project that aims to discover new ways of treating traumatic brain injury.

Medical technology firm Neuralstem is working with the US National Football League Alumni Association (NFLAA) to develop a trial that will see former NFL players treated with an investigational compound called NSI-189.

The drug has been trialled as a therapy for major depressive disorder and functions by stimulating neurons in the hippocampus, which means it could help to address cognitive and psychiatric impairment following a brain injury.

NFLAA is getting involved in this project due to the high number of American football players who sustain brain injuries over the course of their careers.

Richard Garr, Neuralstem's president and chief executive officer, said: "In addition to finding ways to better prevent such injuries, it is imperative that we provide new and improved ways to treat those with such neurological trauma."

The firm is also responsible for developing innovative technology that facilitates the production of neural stem cells of the human brain and spinal cord in commercial quantities.

 

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