Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

April 5, 2011

Scientific Breakthrough: Skin Cells Changed Into Brain Matter




     What a glorious feat!

    This is a long-awaited breakthrough. Scientists have discovered how to reprogram human skin cells to the embryonic state.

     They have turned a mouse’s skin cells into brain cells, bypassing the process of taking the cells back to the embryonic state…the researchers crossed a major barrier by changing a cell from the mesoderm, the lineage for muscle, bone and blood, into a cell from the ectoderm, the lineage for the nervous system the lens of the eye and tooth enamel.

     It took only a week for the scientific team to change mouse skin cells to neurons in a lab dish. The research had up to a 20 percent efficiency rate, and was much faster and more efficient than the reprogramming of cells back to the embryonic state.

     …the technique could allow doctors to treat a patient who has lost a certain kind of brain cell by converting other cells already in the patient’s brain. This would be much simpler than techniques that require an extra step…It makes the prospect realistic that any cell type can be converted into any other, once the magic combination of transcription factors is known.


     It makes me think:

  • Will the mobility of the cells cause an uprootedness, crippling their ability to adapt to a whole new environment?
  • Will the relocated skin cells think like the epidermis or will they learn new thinking patterns?
  • What can humans learn about behavior from the transported cells and the cells in the community they are attempting to join?


Stanford study reference names:

  • Marius Wernig, senior author of the Nature paper and a member of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford
  • Su-Chunn Zhang, University of Wisconsin stem cell researcher and professor of anatomy and neurology


Skin cells directly changed into brain matter, Greensburg Tribune-Review (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), February 1, 2010, pp B8





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