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article imageStem cells artificially aged to show Parkinson’s effect

By Tim Sandle     Dec 9, 2013 in Science
Scientists have developed a method for converting induced stem cells into nerve cells that recapitulate features associated with aging and Parkinson's disease.
The new technique involves exposing stem cells to a protein associated with premature aging called progerin. The process involves taking involve taking skin cells from patients and reprogramming them to embryonic-like stem cells capable of turning into other disease-relevant cell types like neurons or blood cells.
Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells, that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells. The cells are used in research because they have the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types.
As part of the study, the researchers then used the technology to reprogram skin cells taken from patients with Parkinson's disease and converted the stem cells into the type of neuron that is defective in these patients. After exposure to progerin, these neurons recapitulated disease-related features, including neuronal degeneration and cell death as well as mitochondrial defects.
This method could enable scientists to use stem cells to model a range of late-onset disorders, opening new avenues for preventing and treating these devastating diseases.
The findings have been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, in a paper titled “Human iPSC-based Modeling of Late-Onset Disease via Progerin-induced Aging.”
More about Stem cells, Parkinson's Disease, Cells, Aging
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