UCLA scientists make cells that enable the sense of touchJanuary 11, 2018
Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons -- the cells that give us our sense of touch. The new protocol could be a step toward stem cell-based therapies to restore sensation in paralyzed people who have lost feeling in parts of their body.
The study, which was led by Samantha Butler, a UCLA associate professor of neurobiology and member of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, was published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
Sensory interneurons, a class of neurons in the spinal cord, are responsible for relaying information from throughout the body to the central nervous system, which enables the sense of touch. The lack of a sense of touch greatly affects people who are paralyzed. For example, they often cannot feel the touch of another person, and the inability to feel pain leaves them susceptible to burns from inadvertent contact with a hot surface.
"The field has for a long time focused on making people walk again," said Butler, the study's senior author. "'Making people feel again doesn't have quite the same ring. But to walk, you need to be able to feel and to sense your body in space; the two processes really go hand in glove."
In a separate study, published in September by the journal eLife, Butler and her colleagues discovered how signals from a family of proteins called bone morphogenetic proteins, or BMPs, influence the development of sensory interneurons in chicken embryos. The Stem Cell Reports research applies those findings to human stem cells in the lab.
When the researchers added a specific bone morphogenetic protein called BMP4, as well as another signaling molecule called retinoic acid, to human embryonic stem cells, they got a mixture of two types of sensory interneurons. DI1 sensory interneurons give people proprioception -- a sense of where their body is in space -- and dI3 sensory interneurons enable them to feel a sense of pressure.
The researchers found the identical mixture of sensory interneurons developed when they added the same signaling molecules to induced pluripotent stem cells, which are produced by reprogramming a patient's own mature cells such as skin cells. This reprogramming method creates stem cells that can create any cell type while also maintaining the genetic code of the person they originated from. The ability to create sensory interneurons with a patient's own reprogrammed cells holds significant potential for the creation of a cell-based treatment that restores the sense of touch without immune suppression.
Butler hopes to be able to create one type of interneuron at a time, which would make it easier to define the separate roles of each cell type and allow scientists to start the process of using these cells in clinical applications for people who are paralyzed. However, her research group has not yet identified how to make stem cells yield entirely dI1 or entirely dI3 cells -- perhaps because another signaling pathway is involved, she said.
The researchers also have yet to determine the specific recipe of growth factors that would coax stem cells to create other types of sensory interneurons.
The group is currently implanting the new dI1 and dI3 sensory interneurons into the spinal cords of mice to understand whether the cells integrate into the nervous system and become fully functional. This is a critical step toward defining the clinical potential of the cells.
"This is a long path," Butler said. "We haven't solved how to restore touch but we've made a major first step by working out some of these protocols to create sensory interneurons."
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Related Stem Cells Articles:
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
Researchers have developed a new approach for growing and studying cells they hope one day will lead to curing lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis through 'personalized medicine.'
Generating mature and viable heart muscle cells from human or other animal stem cells has proven difficult for biologists.
DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia formation in nearby blood stem cells.
With age, the chromosomes of our cardiac stem cells compress as they move into a state of safe, semiretirement.
A team of researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere has found a better way to purify liver cells made from induced pluripotent stem cells.
International stem cell scientists, co-led in Canada by Dr. John Dick and in the Netherlands by Dr.
Signaling a potential new approach to treating diabetes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
In a new Cell Reports paper, a team led by John P.
Related Stem Cells Reading:
Stem Cell Therapy: A Rising Tide: How Stem Cells Are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives
by Neil H Riordan (Author)
Stem cells are the repair cells of your body. When there aren’t enough of them, or they aren’t working properly, chronic diseases can manifest and persist. From industry leaders, sport stars, and Hollywood icons to thousands of everyday, ordinary people, stem cell therapy has helped when standard medicine failed. Many of them had lost hope. These are their stories.
Neil H Riordan, author of MSC: Clinical Evidence Leading Medicine’s Next Frontier, the definitive textbook on clinical stem cell therapy, brings you an easy-to-read book about how and why stem cells work,... View Details
Stem Cells: Promise and Reality
by Lygia V Pereira (Author)
Stem Cells: Promises and Reality will tell you everything you have always wanted to know about stem cells, but could not understand the field from elsewhere. Stem cells are the great therapeutic promise of the century, and this evolving field of research and medicine brings with it many legal, ethical and psychological issues that must be discussed by society as a whole. Written so as to be accessible to general readers as well as specialists, this book explains what stem cells are, and the different aspects of stem cell research and applications. The book will enable the reader to understand... View Details
Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide
by Paul Knoepfler (Author)
Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide is an exciting new book that takes readers inside the world of stem cells guided by international stem cell expert, Dr. Paul Knoepfler. Stem cells are catalyzing a revolution in medicine. The book also tackles the exciting and hotly debated area of stem cell treatments that are capturing the public's imagination. In the future they may also transform how we age and reproduce. However, there are serious risks and ethical challenges, too. The author's goal with this insider's guide is to give readers the information needed to distinguish between the... View Details
The Stem Cell Revolution
by Mark Berman MD (Author), Elliot Lander MD (Contributor)
The book describes the journey into the growing arena of clinical stem cell therapy by highlighting not only the road that brought a team of physicians together but also real stories from a number of their patients that were given their health back through the magic of stem cell therapy. Your fat is loaded with stem cells that can be used now to treat and reverse a large number of inflammatory and degenerative conditions. Most people have no idea that these magical cells actually exist right within our bodies. They think that they must wait until Big Pharma or a university PhD manufactures... View Details
Stem Cells For Dummies
by Lawrence S.B. Goldstein (Author), Meg Schneider (Author)
The first authoritative yet accessible guide to this controversial topic
Stem Cell Research For Dummies offers a balanced, plain-English look at this politically charged topic, cutting away the hype and presenting the facts clearly for you, free from debate. It explains what stem cells are and what they do, the legalities of harvesting them and using them in research, the latest research findings from the U.S. and abroad, and the prospects for medical stem cell therapies in the short and long term.Explains the differences between adult stem cells and embryonic/umbilical... View Details
Stem Cell Revolution: Discover 26 Disruptive Technological Advances to Stem Cell Activation
by Joseph Christiano (Author)
Addressing chronic back pain, diabetes, joint replacements, osteoarthritis, neurological issues, and more, Joseph “Dr. Joe” Christiano reveals
how this cutting-edge therapy can rapidly replace damaged cells in the body with no side effects or allergic reactions.
If you have been disappointed by ineffective treatments, the answer to improving your health may be in your stem cells. Dr. Joe explains
how adult stem cell therapy and activators are two of the new technologies in regenerative medicine that will be game changers in medical history.
... View Details
Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction
by Jonathan Slack (Author)
Embryonic stem cells have been hot-button topics in recent years, generating intense public interest as well as much confusion and misinformation. In this Very Short Introduction, leading authority Jonathan Slack offers a clear and informative overview of stem cells--what they are, what scientists do with them, what stem cell therapies are available today, and how they might be used in the future. Slack explains the difference between embryonic stem cells, which exist only in laboratory cultures, and tissue-specific stem cells, which exist in our bodies, and he discusses how... View Details
A Buyer's Guide to Stem Cell Therapies: Safely Choose the Right Regenerative Treatment for You
The current array of "stem cell" therapies has been called the new wild west of medicine. Between fraudulent advertising and confusing science, it's no wonder that even doctors are unsure of what to think about stem cell treatments. This book aims to educate lay people who may be interested in stem cell or other regenerative treatments as to what options are currently available, both at home and abroad, and what science exists to support their use. View Details
Bioreactors in Stem Cell Biology: Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology)
by Kursad Turksen (Editor)
Stem Cells: A Short Course
by Rob Burgess (Author)
Stem Cells: A Short Course is a comprehensive text for students delving into the rapidly evolving discipline of stem cell research. Comprised of eight chapters, the text addresses all of the major facets and disciplines related to stem cell biology and research. A brief history of stem cell research serves as an introduction, followed by coverage of stem cell fundamentals; chapters then explore embryonic and fetal amniotic stem cells, adult stem cells, nuclear reprogramming, and cancer stem cells. The book concludes with chapters on stem cell applications, including the role of stem... View Details