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Cord Blood Cells Converted into Neurons

Posted Aug 15 2012 10:08pm
Posted on Aug. 13, 2012, 6 a.m. in Stem Cell Neurology

For more than 20 years, doctors have been using cells from blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth to treat a variety of illnesses, from cancer and immune disorders to blood and metabolic diseases.  Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (California, USA), and colleagues have devised a new protocol:  using a single protein, known as a transcription factor-to convert cord blood (CB) cells into neuron-like cells that may prove valuable for the treatment of a wide range of neurological conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. The researchers used a retrovirus to introduce Sox2, a transcription factor that acts as a switch in neuronal development, into CB cells. After culturing them in the laboratory, they discovered colonies of cells expressing neuronal markers. Using a variety of tests, they determined that the new cells, called induced neuronal-like cells (iNC), could transmit electrical impulses, signaling that the cells were mature and functional neurons. Additionally, they transferred the Sox2-infused CB cells to a mouse brain and found that they integrated into the existing mouse neuronal network and were capable of transmitting electrical signals like mature functional neurons.  The study authors conclude that: “This system highlights the potential of [cord blood] cells and offers an alternative means to the study of cellular plasticity, possibly in the context of drug screening research and of future cell-replacement therapies.”

Alessandra Giorgetti, Maria C. N. Marchetto, Mo Li, Diana Yu, Raffaella Fazzina, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, et al.  “Cord blood-derived neuronal cells by ectopic expression of Sox2 and c-Myc.” PNAS, July 18, 2012.

  
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Sunburn most commonly happens between 10 am and 3 pm, when ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, when you expect to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes (a little sun is good for you, see Tip 45). Ladies will also benefit by wearing facial makeup containing SPF. Sunlight can damage the sensitive cells of the macula (the central part of the eye that is responsible for most of our vision)...
 
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