Scientists have started the cells of the skin of elderly women and he would become the nerves of the spinal cord in a world first that promises to transform research into debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The technique, developed by scientists at the Institute of cell mother of Harvard in Boston, offers researchers a way to recreate the disease of a patient on a plate, giving them a vision without precedent on how the disease harms and destroys the tissues as it progresses.
The work will have an immediate impact on the research of the disease, but ultimately aims to pave the way for new powerful priests, giving doctors the ability to grow healthy tissue of replacement of the cells of the patients themselves.
Understanding of scientists at some of the most distressing and incurable diseases has remained severely because it is impossible to remove diseased brain of patients or spines nerves to study them. Research is carried out in the tissues of the patients who have died, when the disease is usually in its final stages.
The most recent technique allows scientists to a patient’s skin cells and turn them into spinal nerve, or brain cells that develop the disease. Studying nerves newly created as they grow, scientists can learn how the disease takes hold and hopefully discover new drugs to treat the condition.
“No one has never achieved isolate these neurons from a patient and grow them on a plate”, said Kevin Eggan, whose study appears in the journal Science. “Now we can do unlimited supplies of cells that die in this horrible disease.”
Eggan team took the cells of the skin of two women, 82 years of age and 89, each of which had a defective gene causing a condition called the Lou Gehrig’s disease, the same neurodegenerative disorder that affects the physicist Stephen Hawking of Cambridge.
The researchers then infect every cell of the skin with a harmless virus, genetically modified to actually rewind the clock of the cell, returning to an almost embryonic stage. To treat these cells with chemicals, Eggan team was able to turn them into a variety of adult nerve cells, which carried the same genetic defect that causes the disease.
Researchers will now examine the nerves as they grow, to see if early signs of Lou Gehrig’s disease develop.
“It is our lack of understanding of the processes of disease that, we believe, they prevent us from developing more effective cures,” said Christopher Henderson, co-author of the study in the center of Columbia University for Motor Neuron biology and disease.
The work is an important step toward one of the top objectives of stem cell science: the ability to create genetically identical cells for patients that can be used to replace damaged or diseased organs without causing an immune reaction.
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