28 Feb
Drug Combo Could Make New Brain Neurons Drug Combo Could Make New Brain Neurons

Drug Combo Could Make New Brain Neurons

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By mixing drugs that transform cells next to damaged neurons into working, new ones, a concoction could be produced that could treat Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and brain injuries.


Researchers at Penn State’s Eberly College of Sciencerecently announced that they had zeroed in on a small group of molecules that could do that.


In a press release, research team leader Gong Chen, professor of biology and Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences at Penn State, explained that the major issue with repairing neurons in the brain is the fact that they don’t divide, which means that they can’t regenerate. 


Chen added, “In contrast, glial cells, which gather around damaged brain tissue, can proliferate after brain injury. I believe turning glial cells that are the neighbors of dead neurons into new neurons is the best way to restore lost neuronal functions.”


Chen and his associates had previously revealed research covering nine molecules that could help glial cells become neurons, but the number of molecules involved made the transition to clinical treatment difficult. The current study streamlined their approach.


Four molecules were chosen, allowing the researchers to convert as many as 7 in 10 human astrocytes, a kind of glial cell, into working neurons.


These new neurons were observed in a lab setting to survive in a culture dish for over seven months. They reportedly construct strong neural networks and push electrical and chemical signals among themselves, just like brain neurons typically do.


Gene therapy required to effect this change in humans can cost upwards of $500,000, so Chen and the team are working on more efficient and affordable ways to covert glials into neurons. One method under consideration involves a pill.

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Read 1008 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 February 2019 02:34
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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