Another milestone in medical science! American scientists have developed a method to transform skin cells into pluripotent stem cells which are then reprogrammed to become microglia cells, a significant brain cells.
We learned from our science classes that brain is one of the most vital organs in the human body, so damage to the brain and injury or aging can have major impacts on people’s life.
Nowadays, Neurological disorders represent some of the most devastating medical conditions that are also difficult to treat, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The usual research process, study involving Alzheimer’s rely on brain cells from mice. Now, neurobiologists from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have crafted a method or technique that could allow the use of human cells instead of animal ones to help understand neurological diseases better.
In their study, which was published in the journal Neuron, the researchers found a way to transform human skin cells into stem cells and program them into microglial cells.
Microglial cells makes up about 10 to 15 percent of the brain and are involved in the removing dead cells and debris, as well as managing inflammation.
They are instramental in neural network development and maintenance, explained researcher Mathew Blurton Jones, from UCI’s Department of Neurobiology & Behavior.
“Microglia play an important role in Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the central nervous system. Recent research has revealed that newly discovered Alzheimer’s-risk genes influence microglia behavior,” Jones said in an interview.
“Using these cells, we can understand the biology of these genes and test potential new therapies,” he added.
The skin cells had been donated by patients from UCI’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. These were first subjected to a genetic process to convert them into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — adult cells modified to behave as an embryonic stem cell, allowing them to become other kinds of cells.
The said iPS cells were then exposed to differentiation factors designed to imitate the environment of developing microglia, which transformed them into the brain cells.
“This discovery provides a powerful new approach to better model human disease and develop new therapies,” said Wayne Poon, an UCI MIND associate researcher.
The researchers, in effect, have developed “a renewable and high-throughput method for understanding the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease using human cells,” according to researcher Edsel Abud in the press release.
The newest medical intervention has all made possible by reprogrammable stem cells. Indeed, the research study is one more example of how stem cells are changing medicine today.