Skin cells ‘turned into neurons’ by US scientists

first_img Share Share HealthLifestyle Skin cells ‘turned into neurons’ by US scientists by: – May 27, 2011 Tweet Sharecenter_img 17 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! By Neil BowdlerScience reporter, BBC NewsAn image of neurons in the brain. The researchers claim such cells can be made from skin cellsA Californian team say they have managed to convert human skin cells directly into functioning brain cells.The scientists manipulated the process by which DNA is transcribed within foetal skin cells to create cells which behaved like neurons.The technique had previously been demonstrated in mice, says the report in Nature.It could be used for neurological research, and might conceivably be used to create brain cells for transplant.Reprogrammed skinThe scientists used genetically modified viruses to introduce four different “transcription factors” into foetal skin cells. These transcription factors play a role in the “reading” of DNA and the encoding of proteins within the cell.They found the introduction of these four transcription factors had the effect of switching a small portion of the skin cells into cells which functioned like neurons.Unlike other approaches, the process did not involve the reprogramming of the skin cells into stem cells, but rather the direct transformation of skin cells into neurons.Marius Wernig, an assistant professor of pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, was one of the researchers.“We showed that it is possible to convert human skins cells directly into nerve cells which look and behave like nerve cells which usually only exist in the brain,” he told BBC News.“It was known that it was possible to change a specialised cell back into a stem cell, what’s called an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS), but it was not known whether a specialised cell could be pushed into another direction, other than backwards.”Professor Wernig conceded that there were examples, some dating back many years, where specialised cells have been switched into similar cell types, but he believes this is the first example of where cells have undergone such radical conversion.He believes the immediate application will be in modelling diseases, whereby skin cells from a patient with a known neurological condition could be used to produce new brain cells for research.“It is very very difficult to look into the brain. There is a big skull which protects the brain very well and therefore it’s difficult to image,” he said.“Everything that can be done at a cellular level is only possible after a patient has died, by which time the disease is usually in the final stages and you have no chance of seeing how the disease develops.”Future treatmentsThe technique might one day also be used to create new brain cells which could be transplanted into patients with neurological disorders, he said.Created from the patient’s own skin, these cells would be an exact match for the patient, although there would be many obstacles to overcome, not least the challenge of producing enough of the right type of brain cells.Commenting on the study, Jim Huettner, an associate professor at Washington University School of Medicine, said the research was “convincing and important”.“They have shown similar things in mice before but in humans they’ve discovered some subtle differences which often turn up when moving from mice to humans,” he said.“But the work solidifies the idea that this kind of transition is possible and that it’s not just some fluke in the mice model.”BBC Newslast_img read more

USC poll shows shift in women and older adult voters

first_imgFifty-one percent of voters over 65 showed more support for Democratic candidates compared to 45 percent of older voters supporting Republican candidates. (Photo courtesy of USC Dornsife)Democratic candidates are gaining support from women and older American likely voters, making them more likely to win the U.S. House majority, according to a recent national poll by the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times. The latest poll conducted from Aug. 22 to Sept. 24 showed that 51 percent of likely voters would support a Democratic candidate if the elections were held today compared to 41 percent for a Republican candidate. The poll surveyed slightly over 5,000 U.S. residents, including over 4,100 registered voters and over 2,500 likely midterm voters. It also showed that 57 percent of likely voters disapprove of President Donald Trump and 45 percent saw their vote in the upcoming election as a “statement of opposition” to Trump. Michael Murphy, co-director for USC Dornsife’s Center for the Political Future, told USC News that voters’ dislike for Trump is hurting Republicans’ chances of winning House seats.“We now know from the data that President Trump is a drag on the midterm,” Murphy told USC News. “He has all of the problems of a president facing his first midterm. He is still trying to grab the primary rather than capitalizing on these other issues, like the economy.” Half of female voters saw their vote as an opposition to Trump, according to the poll. Compared with a previous poll from July and August, suburban women’s support of Democratic candidates grew nine points, giving Democrats a 61 percentage point advantage among likely female voters. “In the past, Republicans and Democrats alike have wooed suburban women through their identities as mothers, and this specific shift away from the Republican Party comes after the controversial images of immigrant children in detention hit the news,” gender studies and political science professor Hancock Alfaro told USC News. “Through their support of this policy, Republican candidates also became complicit in a policy of family separation.”Likely voters ages 65 and older also showed more support for Democratic candidates, with 51 percent supporting Democrats compared to 45 percent of older likely voters supporting Republicans. Half of these respondents said that health care is a key issue that can swing their vote if a candidate doesn’t support their views.Forty percent of likely voters supported building Trump’s border wall, while three out of four likely voters said they support a path to citizenship for immigrant children whose parents illegally brought them to live in the U.S.“The vast majority [of Republican voters] said [immigration] is one of the most serious problems facing the country today,” Jill Darling, survey director for the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research told USC News. “However, we are not seeing any evidence that it is driving the ‘red wave’ that President Trump has predicted.”last_img read more