The neurons that grew from the progenitor had the markings of neurons found in the rear of the brain, and that specialization can also be helpful. "For therapeutic use, it is essential to use specific types of neural progenitors," says Zhang. "We need region-specific and function-specific neuronal types for specific neurological diseases."
Progenitor cells grown from the skin of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) or spinal muscular atrophy patients can be transformed into various neural cells to model each disease and allow rapid drug screening, Zhang adds.
Eventually, the process could produce cells used to treat conditions like spinal cord injury and ALS.
"These transplantation experiments confirmed that the reprogrammed cells indeed belong to cells of the intended brain regions and the progenitors produced the three major classes of neural cells: neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes," Zhang says. "This proof-of-principle study highlights the possibility to generate many specialized neural progenitors for specific neurological disorders."
|Contact: Su-Chun Zhang|
University of Wisconsin-Madison