Scientists re-grow cells that die in Alzheimer's, according to study

Published 4 March 2011

For the first time scientists have been able to re-grow the brain cells that die early in Alzheimer's disease according to a study published today (Friday 4 March) in the journal Stem Cells.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have developed a tool which transforms human embryonic stem cells into basal forebrain cholinergic neurons.

Alzheimer's Society comment

This study is a major step forward in developing treatments for Alzheimer's. For the first time researchers have worked out how to transform stem cells into a specific type of nerve cell that is key in the development of the disease.  These findings could help us develop new drugs that could benefit people with Alzheimer's. We now need further research to find out whether these stem cells actually work in the brain. Dementia research is desperately underfunded. We must invest more now if we are to move forward in our understanding of this devastating condition.

Professor Clive Ballard
Director of Research
Alzheimer's Society

Research Reference: Christopher Bissonnette et al. 'The controlled generation of functional basal forebrain cholinergic neurons from human embryonic stem cells', Stem Cells, March 2011 

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