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Scientists Report Successfully Implanting Brain Cells in Mice

Monday August 04, 2014

University of Luxembourg and World Science staff

World Science - Sci­en­tists say they have suc­cess­fully im­planted brain cells in­to mice, rais­ing hope for fu­ture ther­a­pies that would re­place cells in pa­tients with Parkin­son’s dis­ease, for ex­am­ple.

The re­search­ers at the Uni­vers­ity of Lux­em­bourg re­ported that they im­planted neu­rons, brain cells that car­ry nerve im­pulses. These cells were “re­pro­grammed” from what were orig­i­nally the mice’s own skin cells.

The im­plants were “suc­cess­ful, be­cause last­ingly sta­ble,” the sci­en­tists re­ported, pub­lish­ing their find­ings in the cur­rent is­sue of the jour­nal Stem Cell Re­ports.

“Suc­cesses in hu­man ther­a­py are still a long way off, but I am sure suc­cess­ful cell re­placement ther­a­pies will ex­ist in fu­ture. Our re­search re­sults have tak­en us a step fur­ther in this di­rec­tion,” said study lead­er Jens Schwam­born, who heads a group of 15 sci­en­tists at the Lux­em­bourg Cen­tre for Sys­tems Bi­o­med­i­cine.

The re­search­ers’ tech­nique of pro­duc­ing neu­rons, or more spe­cif­ic­ally, what they call in­duced neu­ronal stem cells, in a lab dish con­sid­erably im­proves the com­pat­ibil­ity of the im­planted cells, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. They added that the treated mice showed no ill ef­fects even six months af­ter im­planta­t­ion in­to im­por­tant brain re­gions known as the hip­po­cam­pus and cor­tex, brain struc­tures con­sid­ered im­por­tant for mem­o­ry and de­ci­sion­mak­ing. 

The im­planted neu­rons were fully in­te­grat­ed in­to the com­plex net­work of the brain, the sci­en­tists said, showed nor­mal ac­ti­vity and were con­nect­ed to the orig­i­nal brain cells via newly formed synapses, the nor­mal com­mu­nica­t­ion points be­tween nerve cells.

“We will now be look­ing spe­cif­ic­ally at the type of neu­rons that die off in the brain of Parkin­son’s pa­tients – namely the dopamine-pro­duc­ing neu­rons,” Schwam­born said. Dopamine is a neu­ro­trans­mitter, or in­forma­t­ion-car­rying com­pound in the brain. In the fu­ture, im­planted neu­rons could pro­duce the lack­ing dopamine di­rectly in the pa­tien­t’s brain and trans­port it to the ap­pro­pri­ate sites, he added, per­haps yield­ing a so-far elu­sive cure. The first tri­als in mice are in prog­ress
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University of Luxembourg and World Science staff. (4 Aug 2014). World Science. Scientists Report Successfully Implanting Brain Cells in Mice. http://www.world-science.net/othernews/140804_neurons.htm