Friday, January 22, 2010

NPR Science Friday - Scientists Grow Working Neurons From Stem Cells

I heard this segment on my way home from the gym today - very cool. The potential benefits of this for degenerative brain diseases is huge, if it works the same way in adult humans.

Rewiring the Brain With Stem Cells

January 22, 2010

A single stem cell-derived neuron that has migrated away from the transplantation site in the cortex and grown into a mature neuron. Courtesy, with permission: Weimann et al. The Journal of Neuroscience 2010.

New research finds that in mice, transplanted neurons grown from embryonic stem cells can form proper connections with other brain parts. Writing in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers described an experiment in which they successfully grew neurons from stem cells in Petri dishes, then transplanted those neurons into the brains of young mice. James Weimann, one of the authors of the study, said that the work was a hopeful sign for stem cell based treatments on the horizon. "These stem cell-derived neurons can grow nerve fibers between the brain’s cerebral cortex and the spinal cord, so this study confirms the use of stem cells for therapeutic goals," he said. However, the researchers cautioned that this work was so far only performed in young mice, and it remained to be seen whether the approach would work in older mice or in other animals. We'll talk with Weimann about the project.


James Weimann
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Neurology
Stanford Medical School
Stanford, California

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