Paola Arlotta. Credit: B.D. Colen

Opening a new avenue in neurobiology, scientists turn one form of neuron into another in the brain

January 20, 2013

A new finding by Harvard stem cell biologists turns one of the basics of neurobiology on its head – demonstrating that it is possible to turn one type of already differentiated neuron into another within the brain.

The discovery by Paola Arlotta and Caroline Rouaux “tells you that maybe the brain is not as immutable as we always thought, because at least during an early window of time one can reprogram the identity of one neuronal class into another,” said Arlotta, an Associate Professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB).

The principle of direct lineage reprogramming of differentiated cells within the body was first proven by SCRB co-chair and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Doug Melton and colleagues five years ago, when they reprogrammed exocrine pancreatic cells directly into insulin producing beta cells.

Read more: Opening a new avenue in neurobiology, scientists turn one form of neuron into another in the brain — phys.org.

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