Cell research: regeneration, not blocking

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How can one convert harmful cells into useful ones?
A Munich-based stem cell expert and a neurobiologist from Stockholm have dedicated their research to finding the answer.
The two found that certain cells (pericytes) form a physical barrier that prevents nerve growth following a spinal cord injury. Based on this discovery, they have developed a plan to convert this particular cell type into useful oligodendrocytes by utilising reprogramming techniques. These cells form the myelin – the insulating layer for nerve fibres – and are therefore immensely important in terms of regeneration.

The researchers are not quite there yet. However, if their plan succeeds, they could kill several birds with one stone: their solution could soften the barrier of the scar, provide the valuable insulating layer, and allow the nerve fibres to function again.

Researchers: Dr Christian Göritz and Dr Marisa Karow
Institutes: Karolinska Institute, Ludwig-Maximilian University
Status: Work in progress

This project is supported by Wings for Life.