Scientist converts human skin cells into functional brain cells

By | August 4, 2011

Scientist converts human skin cells into functional brain cells

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, a UCSF professor of anatomy and senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and Kyoto University, Japan, will be honored with the 2010 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology for his pioneering stem cell work.

Yamanaka has reprogrammed human skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells, which are pluripotent, meaning that they have the ability to develop into any kind of cell. The Yamanaka method eliminates the need to obtain stem cells from human embryos and has fundamentally altered the field of developmental biology and will aid research into the prevention of birth defects. …ucsf


A scientist at the Gladstone Institutes has discovered a novel way to convert human skin cells into brain cells, advancing medicine and human health by offering new hope for regenerative medicine and personalized drug discovery and development.

In a paper being published online July 28 in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, Sheng Ding, PhD, reveals efficient and robust methods for transforming adult skin cells into neurons that are capable of transmitting brain signals, marking one of the first documented experiments for transforming an adult human’s skin cells into functioning brain cells.

“This work could have important ramifications for patients and families who suffer at the hands of neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease,” said Lennart Mucke, MD, who directs neurological research at Gladstone. “Dr. Ding’s latest research offers new hope for the process of developing medications for these diseases, as well as for the possibility of cell-replacement therapy to reduce the trauma of millions of people affected by these devastating and irreversible conditions.” …

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