Researchers identify metabolic hurdle for successful regenerative medicine

Researchers improve neuronal reprogramming
The replacement of lost neuron is the holy grail in neuroscience. The conversion of glial cell into new neurons is a promising new approach. It is important to improve the efficiency of conversion or reprogramming following brain injury in order to develop reliable regenerative medicine treatments. Researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum München and Ludwig Maximilians University Munich have identified an obstacle to a successful conversion: cell metabolism. The researchers were able to achieve a four-fold higher conversion rate by expressing mitochondrial proteins enriched with neuronal protein at the early stages of direct reprogramming.

The brain’s neurons (nerve cells), for example, are responsible for processing information. The loss of neurons is a common feature in many brain disorders, injuries, and neurodegenerative conditions. Regenerative medicine approaches aim to restore neurons through stem cell differentiation, transplantation or conversion of non-neuronal cells into functional neurons.

Researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Munchen (HZM) and LMU have pioneered the direct conversion of glial cell into neurons, a field they discovered. Glia cells are the most common type of brain cell and can multiply when injured. Researchers are currently able to convert the glia into neurons, but many of them die during this process. The process is inefficient because only a few glial cell convert to nerve cells.


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