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Possible Cure For MS Turns Common Skin Cells Into Working Brain Cells

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the from-one-thing-to-another dept.

Medicine 87

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have discovered a way to convert ordinary skin cells into myelinating cells, or brain cells that have been destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other myelin disorders. The research, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, may now enable 'on demand' production of myelinating cells, which insulate and protect neurons to facilitate the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body."

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And this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452221)

...is how the Observers are born. Where's Walter Bishop when we need him?!

Forget Walter, where's The Doctor when we need him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452475)

And this is how the Observers are born. Where's Walter Bishop when we need him?!

Walter Bishop is nowhere nearly as capable of dealing with the observers as The Doctor is. Does Walter Bishop have access to a TARDIS or a sonic screwdriver? Nope, only The Doctor does and The Doctor can see time a whole lot better than the observers and Walter combined. :P

Obligatory? (0, Redundant)

greenguy (162630) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452241)

Cue the jokes about a cure for Microsoft.

Line-ucks!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452363)

amirite?

Re:Obligatory? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452379)

Q: How did Microsoft break Volkswagen's world record?
A: Volkswagen only made 22 million bugs!

Re:Obligatory? (2, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452381)

Here's a first pass:

What do you get when you cure brain disease?

No more windows 8.

Start 8 and ModernMix the cure for windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452385)

Start 8 and ModernMix the cure for windows 8

Re:Start 8 and ModernMix the cure for windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452543)

That's not the cure for Windows 8, that just masks the symptoms.

Re:Start 8 and ModernMix the cure for windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452773)

Yup, that's like using a LeBra to 'cure' the rust on the hood of your car.

Re:Obligatory? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452389)

In 2013 Slashdot, this drek is marked informative. Not a post about the subject. Not even a post about Microsoft. Just a post letting us know what someone else might say.

You should all be ashamed.

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465259)

You should look up the concept of "humor" and "memes", Mr. Grumpy Cat.

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452411)

Cue the jokes about a cure for Microsoft.

Wow. I seriously thought this was gonna be about Microsoft. Am I insensitive or has the corporation taken over my brain, or both?

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452491)

Cue the jokes about a cure for Microsoft.

He said jokes people.

How that's considered Informative I'm not sure, for there's only one chair-throwing guy who is that big of a fan to confuse the term MS with Microsoft...

Here's one! (0)

Kludge (13653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452551)

Possible Cure For MS Turns Common Skin Cells Into Working Brain Cells

Apparently the researchers discovered that people who use MS products only have skin cells in their skulls.

10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452573)

Some people claim that "M$" is childish. But stories like this are why I still use the abbreviation to fit under the 50-character limit of comment subjects. M$ unambiguously means Microsoft, recalling its beginning as a publisher of line-numbered BASIC interpreters for 8- and 16-bit microcomputers where string variable names ended with $.

On the one hand, the similarity of the names is a joke [jokebuddha.com] . On the other hand, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society did call Microsoft corporation of the year in 1999 [microsoft.com] .

Re:10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453215)

Maybe I'm tired, or just having a slow day. The joke nearly went "whoosh" for me. Good one though!

The residents of Silicon Valley are more confused than usual after a billboard campaign by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of America used this line in an ad slogan "MS, it's not a software company"... exploiting the fame of a certain company to draw attention to an altogether worthier cause.
Requests to comment on the campaign have been met by a surly silence by Microsoft, which doesn't relish the association of ideas but is painfully aware that it can't afford to appear insensitive over such an issue.
Seasoned information technology professionals will have no trouble telling the two MSs apart One is a debilitating and surprisingly widespread affliction that renders the sufferer barely able to perform the simplest task.
The other is a disease.

Re:10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (1)

wordsnyc (956034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43458767)

I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis one year after I dumped Windows XP for Linux. Coincidence, or punishment?

I am also allowed to make New Jersey jokes because I was born there.

Re:10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (1)

spitzak (4019) | about a year and a half ago | (#43455387)

"MS" is also Missisippi, it is the stock symbol for Morgan Stanley, it means Master of Science, and there is quite a few other things it can mean which can be put in the same sentence as Microsoft. So I agree the diatribe against "M$" is stupid, it is a useful abbreviation. I also notice that if somebody says something insulting like "Microsuck" nobody comments, but if somebody says "M$" suddenly out of the woodwork comes all the "oh you are childish! Childish! Childish!" responses. I think it shows desperation by some Microsoft defenders who are not at all secure in their claim that nobody should use "M$".

Re:10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43458141)

N0P3, 17'5 N07 (H1LD15H 4ND 57UP1D 70 U53 5YMB0L5 1N PL4(3 0F L3773R5 1N 4N 3FF0R7 70 L00K K3WL 47 4LL!

Re:Obligatory? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454193)

I thought someone was going to reference the turning cells collected from urine into brain cells. [wired.co.uk]

Maybe someone should piss on the faces of the people who designed windows 8?

I... I tried.

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43456557)

In the population sample we examined, abandoning MS software coincided with increase in brain surface area.

captcha: victim

So the next quesiton is.... (5, Interesting)

plazman30 (531348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452263)

Now that you've made myelin, how do you get it to stick to actual damaged neurons and/or brian cells. If you inject it in there, is it naturally just going to bind to damaged cells?

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452445)

Now that you've made myelin, how do you get it to stick to actual damaged neurons and/or brian cells. If you inject it in there, is it naturally just going to bind to damaged cells?

Yeah, exactly. Otherwise I don't think clumps of myelin just floating around the brain are going to be a good thing.

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#43513159)

It's always amazing how much of biology is self-assembling. to me, the question is, how do you keep whatever started the disease in the first place from continuing to destroy the new cells?

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (5, Interesting)

OG (15008) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452477)

The abstract indicates that the researchers injected the induced oligodendrocytes into mouse brains and they bound to unmyelinated neurons. I don't have access to the article, and I'm not going to pay for it, but perhaps someone else can provide the technical details. Still, it's a question that the authors address.

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454351)

They used "shiverer" mice, a mutant line in which myelin of the central nervous system is affected, and these cells appear to rescue it.

We studied the ability of 8TF-induced MEFs to myelinate axons of hypomyelinated shiverer (Mbpshi/shi) mice, which completely lack MBP and compact myelin and serve as a model of congenital dysmyelinating disorders...ultrastructural analysis by electron microscopy showed that the cells generated multilayered compact myelin sheaths around hypomyelinated shiverer host axons in slice culture

If you're wondering, here is a link video showing why they're called "shiverer." Be forewarned, it's a little disturbing to watch them. I say that having done mouse brain research myself. The reeler mice I've seen in person (Er, seen in mouse) are actually kind of cute, they stagger around like they're drunk (not the best video, but here [youtube.com] . These shivering mice on the other hand, I don't know. I just want to put them out of their misery.

Anyway, with that warning here's the depressing link of what happens when your mouse doesn't have enough myelin in its spinal cord. [youtube.com]

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454417)

PS. Got off topic there. Anyway, here is the figure in question [nature.com] , I tested it on my phone, that shouldn't be behind a paywall. LM and N are the panels to focus on. It appears that not all the axons are myelinated, but the ones that are look like they're completely ensheathed.

Searching for "shiver" I didn't see anything about a reduction in shivers in the treated mice. That would have been pretty huge had it rescued the "symptoms" of the condition, so I'm going to assume that at this first pass it wasn't enough to "fix" these mice enough to detect. It would have been really nice had it done that, but this is just a first pass. Hopefully subsequent studies will refine the process to the point where most of the axons are remyelinated, then it may actually fix MS or other diseases.

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454797)

Thanks for the link. A long time ago, I worked in a lab which did a much less sophisticated version of this experiment. They took oligodendrocyte precursor cells (a cell line called 02A), which were genetically engineered to express some kind of easily-seen marker protein (forget which one). The cells were isolated and cultured (which was a pain in the ass to do) from a special breed of non-shiverer mice with the marker protein. Then they were injected into the dorsal columns of shiverer mice, much like in this figure.

From what I recall the results were broadly similar to what these guys achieved. Getting the precursor to differentiate and myelinate nearby axons was not a problem-- they did that on their own. The big problem is that they did NOT proliferate in the spinal column and they did NOT migrate around much. So you would get a little patch of myelinated axons around the injection site, like in figures G and H from the link, but of course the rest of sthe central nervous system was unaffected and it had no effect whatsoever on the shiverer mouse's symptoms or or survival.

The innovation here is that they somehow got skin cells to turn into oligodendrocytes, which is neat. But it doesn't seem to hold much promise as an actual treatment.

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43458227)

Cool beans. I know a guy with a generous foreskin, would be cool if he snipped some and repaired brain plaques completely.

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43453593)

Not going to check reddit for obligarory Bad Luck Brian meme picture...

Re:So the next quesiton is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43453653)

I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease inherited from my mother. My sister also suffers from it. My mother had it very bad and could not walk or use her hands starting in her early 20s. I have had ankle and feet problems starting in my late 30s which grows progressively worse. I cannot do stairs without hand rails on both sides and have trouble walking without either braces or a cane. CMT is due to the myelin sheath breaking down in the peripheral nerves and it would certainly be fantastic if something like this were to offer some relief. But considering I am about 60 my chances of using it are probably minimal but I hope for other CMT sufferers in the future that maybe this will help.

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452291)

i rather smoke pot and avoid further damage.

Re:meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452907)

No more brain cells to damage?

QUICK! PATENT IT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452295)

We don't want something that is good for humanity leaking out!

So now the hungry Zombies will cry: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452403)

"Skkiiiinnnnnnn...."

Re:So now the hungry Zombies will cry: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452605)

If you ask me, the skin is much easier to access than the brain.

- Anonymous Zombie

Exobrain (1)

Geheimagent (679949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452423)

Cool, this will turn your skin into an exobrain.

Re:Exobrain (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452583)

That gives "thinking with your dick" a whole new meaning! "Wow, how'd he solve that equation?" "With his penis..."

Re:Exobrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452751)

That gives "thinking with your dick" a whole new meaning! "Wow, how'd he solve that equation?" "With his penis..."

Circumcisions will become extinct.

Who the hell would want to chop off an extra 20 IQ points...

Re:Exobrain (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452973)

Circumcisions will become extinct.

They'd become the modern equivalent of lobotomy? Well, a part of the population wouldn't notice the difference anyway.

Re:Exobrain (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453087)

You say this like it isn't happening already...

Re:Exobrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43453029)

Don't forget an R-Type logo and carbonfiber hood for an extra 20 hp. oh, wait wrong forum tab...

Cautiously Optimistic (5, Insightful)

organgtool (966989) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452473)

The article wasn't clear on whether or not this could reverse the damage caused by MS or whether it would just prevent further damage. I know several people that suffer from this disease and it's utterly horrible. The worst case is my uncle who went from being in peak physical condition to requiring a cane or wheelchair to get around. He now stutters when he speaks, has trouble holding his head up, and can't keep his eyes still enough to even focus on words while trying to read. This disease slowly takes away all of your faculties and strips you of all autonomy and independence and a cure for it can't come fast enough.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (4, Funny)

stereoroid (234317) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452505)

The damage done in MS is to the nervous system, and all that new myelin could do would be to prevent further damage. That's still very much worth pursuing if it allows a healing process to take place - whether natural or another man-made therapy.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (2)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452635)

Even if it only works as a preventative, it could be a huge step up from current treatment. The current standard for treating MS is interferon injections, which are expensive, not very effective, and come with a host of nasty side effects.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43463581)

Treatments for relapsing/remitting MS that are more effective than the interferons are available. As an MS patient, I've been on non-interferon therapies for four years. A couple more become available every year. I starting taking Tysabri after interferons were obviously failing to stop the progression of the disease; it's been working very well for me.

Just ten years ago interferons were still fairly new for MS (and some of today's diagnostic tools - in particular, higher field strength MRIs - weren't common.)

Twenty years ago we were in the Dark Ages with MS. They would put a suspected MS patient in a hot bath and see if his symptoms got worse. If so - congratulations, you have MS. You would get steroids occasionally (as we all do even now for occasional outbreaks), but not too often because of the side effects. It was, if not a death sentence, at least a life-limiting diagnosis. Breakthroughs like the one in this article, if they pan out, may actually do something that has not been seen yet - reverse the damage done to the nervous system by MS.

(Interferons DO have nasty side effects - for me, it was as though the worst influenza you've ever had arrived every two days. So do all of the later therapies, in different ways. Like most of those suffering from chronic diseases, we educate ourselves as best we can and try to make the best-informed choices for our situation.)

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452761)

Untrue. The symptoms of MS are due to demyelination. Current treatments reduce the inflammatory response and therefore further myelin destruction but do nothing to rebuild the destroyed myelin. Remyelinating the neurons is the missing step in MS treatment.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (4, Informative)

Willuz (1246698) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453173)

Exactly right, this is just a way of repairing damage already caused by MS and does not "cure" or slow the disease at all. Still an important step though, since damage is permanent for most people.

It's easiest to think of MS as mice chewing the insulation off the wiring in your car resulting in short circuits and lost signals. Curing the disease would be getting rid of the mice. This treatment is like taking your car to the shop to have the wiring replaced, but the car is still full of mice that will eat the wiring again. The current treatments for MS just put the mice (mostly) to sleep, but they're still there and could awake at any time and some people's mice are more resistant than others.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (2)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453325)

In your analogy, you need both to get rid of the mice, and repair the wiring.
This is part of the solution.
I have some friends with MS, and even this partial patch job would be a vast improvement, even if it has to be repeated occasionally.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43455523)

In your analogy, you need both to get rid of the mice, and repair the wiring.
This is part of the solution.
I have some friends with MS, and even this partial patch job would be a vast improvement, even if it has to be repeated occasionally.

Occasionally?

Unfortunately, once insurance companies get a hold of this, it will be very costly, and likely required more often than "occasionally". After all, that dosage sounds like such a casual guess for calculating the potential revenue streams when the greediest of the greedy need hard, fast numbers before the next quarter.

Yes, it is horrible just exactly how these types of breakthroughs are deployed, and socialized medicine will not be an improvement over this. Just try not to think about the fact that the breakthrough will likely stop at the perpetual treatment level. I pray I'm wrong.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#43456357)

Serious question: Does the body repair the wiring (myelin sheath) at ALL by itself?

Is this just eating the insulation faster than it can regrow, or does it not regrow at all?

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43463617)

Untrue. The symptoms of MS are due to demyelination. Current treatments reduce the inflammatory response and therefore further myelin destruction but do nothing to rebuild the destroyed myelin. Remyelinating the neurons is the missing step in MS treatment.

This.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453429)

Not sure why you're modded funny. You are probably correct, in that this therapy wouldn't reverse the effects, at least not immediately. Whether the body can heal on its own (albeit slowly), or there needs to be some other complementary procedure that would actively reverse the effects of MS is probably an area that warrants further study.

Mods? Are you playing mod-roulette today?

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43455781)

No the damage done in MS is to their desktop strategy which has been flushed down the toilet to make room for their tablet apple-copying plans.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452641)

A bit of both, at least if it works -
For neurones lacking mylin slows signals and increases the capacity for crosstalk among other things, in addition to these problems this can cause connections to be lost eventually leading controlled cell suicide (apoptosis).
The reduced efficiency will be repaired allowing the neurons left to talk properly again, at least if it works - this should cause some recovery, potentially quite a bit.
Dead neurons do get replaced but only at a very slow rate, so any neuronal die-off will be left as an issue - but death rates should return to more normal levels for a brain of that age.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453181)

It's not going to prevent further damage. This certainly isn't a cure or potential cure for MS, but if it works well it might help fix some of the damage that's been done. Some. Axons die in MS, and this won't replace them. There's good evidence that a lot of the actual damage is due to neuronal damage and not a failure to remyelinate.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453373)

It's a treatment that has the potential to restore some functionality. It's kind of like bailing a boat. It doesn't fix the root problem, but it might restore some functionality and definitely slows the worsening of the situation and puts off the eventual undesirable termination.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453721)

Not necessarily. There has been quite a bit of work on transplanting oligodendrocytes and their precursor cells, including stem cells. That hasn't yielded any real results. Other research has shown that there really isn't a shortage of oligo precursor cells. There are some axons that don't remyelinate but a big source of damage seems to be axons that are permanently damaged or die when they're demyelinated.

It's interesting and might be useful, but it might equally well turn out not to be useful in MS at all.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (1)

bughunter (10093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43456263)

This research has potential to become a treatment to repair the lesions in the brain caused by MS.

From the second linked article:

In multiple sclerosis, the destruction of oligodendrocytes and myelin results in symptoms such as loss of balance, problems moving arms and legs, loss of coordination and weakness, according to the National Institues of Health. Other problems include loss of bladder control, impaired vision, depression, and memory loss.

To fix these problems, not only must the autoimmune reaction be brought under control, but the myelin must be repaired. That implies producing new oligodendrocytes. Hence, the OPCs, which researchers think could become effective sources of the olgodendrocytes when transplanted. (Transplantion of fully mature cells doesn't seem to work in such studies; the cells seem to need to complete the last step of maturation in their new enviroment to wire into the nervous system.)

My wife has recurring-remitting MS and suffers from mild to moderate permanent symptoms that remain after her relapses. She takes betaseron [wikipedia.org] to help prevent relapses, but this does not in any way treat the symptoms. Sometimes the lingering effects of a relapse will fade over time as new circuits get wired around the damage, but this never a full recovery. The possibility of regrowing myelin to actually repair this damage would represent a kind of treatment that is currently not available... she'll be excited about this news.

Your uncle sounds like he has progressive MS, which is much more severe and debilitating. As advanced as his case is, a treatment like this may not be able to completely repair the damage he suffers, but it would certainly offer an improvement in his quality of life. Progressive MS patients need the other part of the cure --the prevention of autoimmune damage-- as well as a cure for the damage caused. I wish him the best.

Re:Cautiously Optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43456977)

You should get him to watch this. MS can be treatable with food.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Terry Pratchett could benefit from this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452503)

I wonder if anyone's told him? He said that he would be up for early experimentation...

Re:Terry Pratchett could benefit from this.... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452661)

I believe that Terry Pratchett is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's disease. I do not believe that Alzheimer's involves the myelin.

Re:Terry Pratchett could benefit from this.... (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453389)

Yes, different disease, different problem. Alzheimer's has a build up of a type of plaque, not a destruction of myelin sheaths as in MS.

Re:Terry Pratchett could benefit from this.... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453657)

That is what I was thinking, but I did not want to state it outright since it had been too long since I last looked it up and didn't feel like looking it up this morning.

Multiple Sclerosis treatment you mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452541)

My understanding of MS is that it is an autoimmune disorder where your body attacks the myelin sheath and causes all sorts of nervous system issues. Even if we were able to rapidly produce meylin cells, your body would still attack the cells/sheath would it not? So if that is true then this isn't a cure for MS, it's more of a treatment. My father passed away from complications of this disease when I was seven, and my aunt on the other side of my family also suffers from MS. I hope a cure could be found one day soon, but I would be happy with a successful treatment option for her and others who suffer from this disease.

Re:Multiple Sclerosis treatment you mean? (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453411)

You are correct, it is not a cure. On the other hand, it is a very important milestone to a cure. Two things have to be found to create a 'cure' for MS.
One, is a way to stop the destruction of the myelin. We don't really have that, but we do have stuff that slows it down.
Two, is a means to repair the damage the disease/disorder did. That's what this treatment may do.
It's not the ultimate solution, but it looks like it's a big step in the right direction.

Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452595)

More working brain cells can't hurt Microsoft, but cure it? I'm not sure about that.

Oh...wait. My bad.

Full Article PDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452673)

Some how this link [mega.co.nz] just showed up to the whole article I wonder how ...

Don't forget!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452785)

How about replacing brain cells in people who lost them due to alcoholism?? PLEASE???
Until they take so much skin from me that I can no longer hold a beer, I'd like to convert them to brain cells!

Re:Don't forget!! (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453475)

There are actually several different types of cells in the brain, even though we talk about them collectively as brain cells and rarely differentiate outside of medical and scientific discussions. It's kind of like how most people talk about 'bullets' and gun enthusiasts discuss various types of 'ammo'. Something like a '22 long 32 grain smokeless', which is a bogus example, but only someone that knows a lot about firearms can tell you what is wrong with that off the top of their head.

Short version, different type of brain cell there buddy :)

And I wonder (2)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452963)

Since ALS aka amaotrophic lateral sclerosis is caused by de-myelnizing of the nerve fibers - you could probably cure that too.

And since I have a slight risk this is good news.

Re:And I wonder (2)

chooks (71012) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453129)

FYI - ALS is primarily a neurodegenerative disease where the neurons themselves are dying off and not a demyelinating disease where the neurons remain intact but loose their myelin sheath.

Embryonic Stem Cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452997)

I am wondering if the federal ban on funding for embryonic stem cells played a role in funding this particular research or even made the scientists redirect their efforts??? Sometimes a seemingly stupid policy has unexpected positive results. We in the US might actually dodge a research black hole by not getting to invested in embryonic stems cells which have many problems the persons on bodies don't.

Re:Embryonic Stem Cells (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453377)

I am wondering if the federal ban on funding for embryonic stem cells played a role in funding this particular research or even made the scientists redirect their efforts??? Sometimes a seemingly stupid policy has unexpected positive results. We in the US might actually dodge a research black hole by not getting to invested in embryonic stems cells which have many problems the persons on bodies don't.

Not a whole lot. Converting already differentiated cells (like skin cells) into other cell types or pleuripotent stem cells has always been a hot research topic. Even without the federal funding ban, working on embryonic cells is a PITA. Skin fibroblasts are much easier to deal with. Also, the understanding of how to de-differentiate cells is obviously an important part of understanding developmental biology. If you can run the tape both forwards and backwards you have a better chance of understanding the process.

The two are complementary approaches. Did the federal ban speed things up? Who knows? Maybe if one researcher hadn't been on that all week bender we would have had the recent advances 20 years ago. If George Bush hadn't been elected twice we might have flying cars by now.... If Obama hadn't been elected, I might be able to buy some shotgun shells..... Oops. Digressing here. Sorry.

Re:Embryonic Stem Cells (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453571)

I'd say it's slowed it all down as it has prevented the usage of an available resource until there was found a way to create an alternate source. Unfortunately, if you've been keeping track of this stuff on the science & medical sites, you'd know that even though they have been finding ways of restoring pluripotency to cells, the resulting 'stem cells' seem to have defects of various types.
In short, they just aren't as good as the real thing. Of course, they are still working to improve the induced versions, but for the most part, they don't even know what's wrong.

IMO, even the partial gains to induced pluripotency research is far outweighed by the loss of stem cell research and the humans that have suffered and died because of the many years of delay in the treatment research for various diseases. Which by the way, has still not been solved since the 'manufactured stem cells' have not proven as capable as the real ones. (Kind of like a cheap plastic Tonca Truck that costs several times the price of the metal Tonka Truck it's a knockoff of.)

Re:Embryonic Stem Cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43454415)

Embryonic Stem Cells is an inherent dead in because even if you do come up with a working therapy for something, where exactly do you get a steady supply of these cells?

Gosnell wll probably be in jail soon, so that supply source is out.

Not a cure or preventative, but helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43453217)

The article presents a cell-based approach for creating myelinating oligodenrocytes. In practice, that's no good for a treatment for diseases where issues with myelin are a problem because it involves introducing cells into an area while they are being attacked, but before the damage is done. There's no practical way to pull that off. You can't identify where a lesion might appear before it does, and once a lesion exists scarring occurs and remyelination is useless. It's not a preventative since the immune system is attacking myelinating cells in general and would attack these cells as well. What this research is good for, however, would be to look for targets to stimulate the body to regenerate myelin sheaths for cells currently under attack.

The general idea here is to create a system for studying how cells are induced to myelination to look for compounds that might be able to promote that in situ, to better understand the process and the immunological importance of it (in things like MS, ALS, Lupus, etc.) and the more general role of nerve growth and regeneration (important for any sort of nerve damage; humans lose the ability to regenerate nervous tissue in the central nervous system during their late development).

Nature Article discussion (3, Informative)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453301)

Just a quick walk-through of the first section of the paper:

Cell-based therapies for myelin disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and leukodystrophies, require technologies to generate functional oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Here we describe direct conversion of mouse embryonic and lung fibroblasts to induced oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (iOPCs) using sets of either eight or three defined transcription factors.

The Slashdot summary and 3rd party source says "skin cells", but the paper indicates the specific cell type used were "mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs)"; specifically, they were MEFs isolated from a transgenic mouse lineage where a specific transactivator had already been engineered into their genome. This transactivator was designed to work together with the introduced Lentivirus vector (a retrovirus, member of the genus to which HIV belongs), carrying the Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cell (OPC) transcription factors.
In a later section of the paper, they perform a similar process with "mouse lung fibroblasts" (MLFs), and also test several different combinations of transcription factors.

iOPCs exhibit a bipolar morphology and global gene expression profile consistent with bona fide OPCs. They can be expanded in vitro for at least five passages while retaining the ability to differentiate into multiprocessed oligodendrocytes.

Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck. Can be expanded into a flock while still retaining duck-ness.

When transplanted to hypomyelinated mice, iOPCs are capable of ensheathing host axons and generating compact myelin. Lineage conversion of somatic cells to expandable iOPCs provides a strategy to study the molecular control of oligodendrocyte lineage identity and may facilitate neurological disease modeling and autologous remyelinating therapies.

Induced OPC cells integrate into their normal niche, insulating neurons (at least at the cellular level). Didn't see much discussion of whether or not it altered the hypomyelinated ("shiver" mouse) phenotype.

Re:Nature Article discussion (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454497)

The Slashdot summary and 3rd party source says "skin cells", but the paper indicates the specific cell type used were "mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs)"

Well, fibroblasts are common in the skin, and you can easily get fibroblasts from taking a small patch of skin. You're right that they're not the keratinized cells that make up most of the skin, but they are in the skin.

Induced OPC cells integrate into their normal niche, insulating neurons (at least at the cellular level). Didn't see much discussion of whether or not it altered the hypomyelinated ("shiver" mouse) phenotype.

It did restore at least some myelination [nature.com] but not all of the axons, and I didn't see anything about it improving the shivers.

Re:Nature Article discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43456387)

Also, for those that are interested in the applications to MS. The researchers injected these into shiverer mice. These are mice with a genetic defect in the gene for myelin basic protein (highly expressed in myelin). The myelin in these mice never forms properly. Thus, this is a model of congenital myelin defects.
By comparison, multiple sclerosis has a significant autoimmune component - the immune system is attacking the cells that form the myelin sheath. Thus, simply replacing the myelin sheath would likely not fix the problem. Having said that, there is a mouse model for MS called EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis) - it's likely that these researchers have tried rescuing a mouse from EAE using this method. I find it likely that the experiment would fail.

Having said that, figuring out how to reprogram MEF's to produce myelin cells is a great achievement and the research is commendable. It's just not going to be a cure-all for all myelin disorders.

This is obviously a non-starter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43453461)

Because It doesn't involve murdering the unborn.

Multiple Sclerosis (1)

dontgetshocked (1073678) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454471)

Since I live the dream, I can only hope that there is some truth to this and that there may be hope for some. I have the rarest kind of MS and so there are NO treatments for it. Research, where you at? Where is my magic pill?

Re:Multiple Sclerosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43456133)

Have you heard about the work of Dr David Wheldon in the UK? You can read more about it at http://www.davidwheldon.co.uk/ms-treatment.html [davidwheldon.co.uk]

I have a very good friend following the antibiotic and supplement regime for over a year now and their MS symptoms appear to have slowed to a halt.

Rebound effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43454595)

What happens if the body reacts and tries to compensate? By turning brain into skin, for example?

Re:Rebound effect? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#43460853)

What happens if the body reacts and tries to compensate? By turning brain into skin, for example?

A skinhead?

WTF is this web site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43456195)

other articles from this web site:

Porn Addict Hospitalized After Trapped Giant Eel Gnaws Through His Digestive Tract

and

Russian Gymnast Has the World's Strongest Vagina

Say NO to Circumcision (1)

eyendall (953949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43464589)

Now we have proof. A guys brain sits at the end of his cock.

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