Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Directly Into Motor Neurons
Scientists have found a way to convert skin cells from healthy adults directly into motor neurons without going through a stem cell state, thereby making it possible to study motor neurons of the human central nervous system in the laboratory. Unlike commonly studied mouse motor neurons, human motor neurons growing in the lab would be a new tool since researchers cannot take samples of these neurons from living people but can easily take skin samples.
Motor neurons drive muscle contractions, and their damage underlies devastating diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy, both of which ultimately lead to paralysis and early death. The technique, described in the journal Cell Stem Cell, could help researchers better understand these diseases.