In DepthNeuroscience

Reprogrammed cells could tackle brain damage

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Science  16 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6416, pp. 736-737
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6416.736

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Summary

Last week, researchers at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California, presented progress on a new strategy for repairing injured or diseased brains: reprogramming abundant nonneuronal cells called astrocytes into neurons. Several groups have successfully prompted this cellular transformation in the brains of living mice. Now, labs are turning to the next questions: Do these neurons function like those that have been lost, and does creating neurons at the expense of astrocytes do brain-damaged animals any good? Many researchers remain skeptical on both counts. But three groups shared evidence that reprogrammed astrocytes do, at least in some respects, impersonate the neurons they're meant to replace. And two of them shared findings suggesting reprogrammed astrocytes help mice recover movement lost after a stroke.