There is a New and Efficient Way of Producing Brain Cells from Stem Cells
Stem cells can be used in a variety of ways and that can be attributed to its properties of self-renewal and the ability to differentiate or turn into any cell imaginable.
These amazing cells are either used to come up with treatments and cures and it can also be used as a means to help study certain medical conditions.
Researchers at the Lund University in Sweden may have developed a new way to create functional brain cells, known as Astrocytes, from human embryonic stem cells.
Henrik Ahlenius, the project and lead development head, said that it is now easier for them to study the role of astrocytes as it pertains to the creation of various human conditions.
Astrocytes are star-shaped glial cells that are present in our brains and although we’ve known about their presence so many years ago, it has now only been known how significant the said brain cells are.
There is no substantial data as to what the role of Astrocytes is and getting them can actually prove to be quite challenging, until now, said Ahlenius. Even though there were previous methods of creating Astrocytes in a laboratory, scientists would have to painstakingly undergo a couple of processes for that to happen. That means that if you are going to come up with Astrocytes before this new method, it is not only time-consuming but your resources are also going to be depleted as well.
Some scientists before were able to create astrocytes using embryonic stem cells, but their methods are all outdated that it would take them a couple of months to achieve the desired results.
With Ahlenius’ new method, you can come up with enough Astrocytes from the stem cells in just a matter of 7-14 days.
So, how did Ahlenius and his team come up with a more suitable solution to creating Astrocytes? Well, he and his team used viruses that activate the genes found in the embryonic stem cells.
The team used the Cas9-CRISPR method, which is also known as a gene editing tool, to insert a kind of mutation that would lead to the occurrence of a serious brain condition known as the Alexander Disease. The same method is also used to create astrocytes either from healthy or mutated stem cells.
According to the research team, they found out that the cells that were given the mutation showed several defects that are present among the people who suffer from Alexander Disease.
With this new method, Ahlenius said that it will now become easier to study the role of Astrocytes as it pertains to neurological diseases.
As of the time of writing, the research team is more focused on studying age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They also want to know why Astrocytes are present in such conditions and what their roles are when it comes to these diseases.