An Inexhaustible Source of Neural Cells

Feb 17, 2009 By Oliver Brüstle

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research scientists in Bonn, Germany, have succeeded in deriving so-called brain stem cells from human embryonic stem cells. These can not only be conserved almost indefinitely in culture, but can also serve as an inexhaustible source of diverse types of neural cell. The scientists have also shown that these neural cells are capable of synaptic integration in the brain. Their results have been published in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For years, stem cell research appeared to be divided between two worlds: on the one hand, were the embryonic stem cells – omnipotent, with unlimited development potential, and on the other, were the so-called somatic stem cells, which were obtainable from adult tissue, but have only limited potential for self-renewal and development. Scientists in Bonn have now succeeded in combining these two worlds: they have derived brain stem cells of almost unlimited self-renewal capacity and conservation potential from human embrionic stem cells. Using these stable cell lines, they were then able to obtain a continual in vitro supply of diverse types of human neural cell including, for example, those which fail with Parkinson´s disease.

Using the new cells, researchers are now also able to reduce their requirements for embryonic stem cells, which have hitherto been indispensable as basic material for every individual cell creation process. “The new cells, in contrast, serve as an inexhaustible source: they provide a supply of human neural cells over periods of months and years without demanding any recourse to supplementary embryonic stem cells”, declares Professor Dr. Oliver Brüstle, head of the research team at the Institute for Reconstructive Neurobiology at Bonn University.

Using animal experiments, the researchers in Bonn provided direct proof that these artificially derived neural cells will also function. Transplanted into the brain of a mouse, these cells made contact with the recipient brain and were subsequently able both to send and receive signals. “This is the first direct evidence that neural cells derived from human stem cells are capable of synaptic integration in the brain”, declares Dr. Philipp Koch, the original author of the study. The scientists in Bonn are now also hoping to exploit this inexhaustible cell source to study neurodegenerative diseases and possible active agents directly in human neural cells.

Brüstle and his team were the first scientists in Germany to receive permission to import human embryonic stem cells. They had played a major role in the public discussion of this hot topic. “Our current results make it clear how smoothly research into embryonic and somatic stem cells can be combined, and at the same time, how important this is”, Brüstle stresses.

More information: Koch, P., Opitz, T., Steinbeck, J., Ladewig, J., Brüstle, O. (2009): A rosette-type, self-renewing human ES cell-derived neural stem cell with potential for in vitro instruction and synaptic integration; PNAS dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0808387106

Provided by Bonn University

Explore further: Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Special chromosomal structures control key genes

Oct 09, 2014

Within almost every human cell is a nucleus six microns in diameter—about one 300th of a human hair's width—that is filled with roughly three meters of DNA. As the instructions for all cell processes, the DNA must be ...

Stem cells use 'first aid kits' to repair damage

Sep 18, 2014

Stem cells hold great promise as a means of repairing cells in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or injuries of the spinal cord because they have the ability to develop into almost any cell type. ...

Recommended for you

Seychelles poachers go nutty for erotic shaped seed

2 hours ago

Under cover of darkness in the steamy jungles of the Seychelles thieves creep out to harvest the sizeable and valuable nuts of the famous coco de mer palm, and their activities are threatening its long-term ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

El_Nexus
3 / 5 (3) Feb 17, 2009
Now they just need to show that these new cells, when implanted into certain parts of the brain, can do the job that that part of the brain does. It's no good having cells that can send and receive signals if they just fire randomly.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.