Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, Autism: Reprogrammed human cells are new research tool

Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, Autism: Reprogrammed human cells are new research tool

Microscope view: stem cells reprogrammed from adult skin cells (red blobs), morphing into human brain cells (green blobs)

Difficult-to-study diseases such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and autism now can be probed more safely and effectively thanks to an innovative new method for obtaining mature brain cells called neurons from reprogrammed skin cells, developed in research led by biologist Gong Chen at Penn State University. The research offers the promise of direct disease modeling, allowing for the creation, in a Petri dish, of mature human neurons that behave a lot like neurons that grow naturally in the human brain. In this image, human neural stem cells (shown in red), reprogrammed originally from adult skin cells, differentiate efficiently into brain cells (shown in green), after being cultured with star-shaped cells called astrocytes.

Image: Chen lab, Penn State University
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