Sci­en­tists Turn Hu­man Skin Cells Di­rectly Into Mo­tor Neu­rons

The Day After - - COFFEE HOUSE -

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.

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