Feeds

From stem cell to brain cell in a petri dish

Bit of a breakthrough

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Researchers in Florida have grown brain cells to maturity in the lab for the first time ever. The researchers identified and harvested stem cells from the brains of adult mice and encouraged them to grow by mimicking the way the brain naturally regenerates.

The work opens the possibility of new treatments for degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, and could lead to the development of new drugs to encourage damaged nerves to re-grow, the researchers say.

Key to the research is the identification of the stem cell. Professor Dennis Steindler, who led the research, explains that he and his team used a special microscope that allowed them to watch living cells over a period of time. This, he added, means that they have seen the stem cells give rise to new neurons.

"We've isolated for the first time what appears to be the true candidate stem cell," he said. "We've watched it under a living microscope generate brand new neurons."

The breakthrough means that scientists can now generate virtually limitless quantities of mouse brain cells, and are confident that the technique will soon work for humans as well. And because the cells would originally have come from the patient being treated, there would be no need for immuno suppressant drugs.

Bjorn Scheffler, a neuroscientist at Florida University says that although researchers have grown brain cells in the lab before, this is the first time the whole process has been reproduced, step by step. "Our study shows for the first time the entire process that goes on in our brain for life. We can, in a dish, recapture the process in front of our eyes," The Independent quotes him as saying.

The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ®

Related stories

Bush pledges to veto stem cell bill
Scientists hail stem cell breakthrough
Whiskery stem cells grow skin, muscles and neurons

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.