Watch the chief scientist do the magic: time for stem cells to change

Researchers from Harvard University, Howard hughes medical school and others have successfully transformed mouse and human fibroblasts into induced motor neurons (iMNs), providing new theoretical information for the study of neural mechanisms and treatment of neurological diseases. The work, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell and featured in one of the most closely watched papers of the month, is the latest in a long line of work to transform human skin cells into neurons.

The corresponding author is professor Kevin Eggan, chief scientist of the New York stem cell foundation. Eggan is a descender of Rudolf Jaenisch, the founder of stem cell research and in 2005 he used embryonic stem cell lines instead of eggs to fuse with adult skin cells, producing "hybrid" cells.

It has been such a long time that we explored whether the functions and properties of differentiated cells can be altered by altering their epigenetic properties. After cloning and iPS, transdifferentiation has become the new focus, because scientists seem to be able to turn skin cells into nerve cells, or heart cells, fibroblasts into liver cells, and somatic cells to differentiate from one another so easily, it is really amazing.

In this article, the researchers successfully used the transcription factor change mice and human fibroblasts induced into type induction motor neurons (induced motor neurons, iMNs), the cells have morphology and gene expression characteristics, and also have electrophysiology and synaptic function, can respond to stimuli just like embryos of motor neurons.

This study proves that fibroblasts can directly transform into a specific differentiation and functional neuron, which is another important achievement after scientists transform human skin cells into neurons, and also provides new theoretical information for the study of neural mechanism and the treatment of neurological diseases.
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