Scientists reprogrammed human blood cells into neural stem cells, according to a study published on December 21, 2018.
This study was conducted by scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the stem cell institute HI-STEM in Heidelberg. These neural stem cells are similar to those that occur during the early embryonic development of the central nervous system.
Andreas Trumpp, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Director of HI-STEM in Heidelberg said, “This was a major breakthrough for stem cell research. This applies in particular to for research in Germany, where the generation of human embryonic stem cells is not permitted. Stem cells have enormous potential both for basic research and for the development of regenerative therapies that aim to restore diseased tissue in patients. However, reprogramming is also associated with problems: For example, pluripotent cells can form germ line tumors, so-called teratomas.”
Previously, many research groups had reprogrammed connective tissue cells into mature nerve cells or neural precursor cells. Since these nerve cells could not be expanded, it did not find any application in therapeutic purposes. Trumpp and his team along with other scientists succeeded in reprogramming different human cells. An important fact about the reprogrammed cells is that they are a homogeneous cell type that are similar to a stage of neural stem cells that occurs during the embryonic development of the nervous system.
These so called “induced Neural Plate Border Stem Cells” (iNBSCs) have a broad development potential. The iNBSCs of the Heidelberg scientists are expandable and multipotent and can develop in two different directions. Therefore, the iNBSCs helps in generating a wide range of various cell types for an individual patient.