Scientists grow Alzheimer's cells for the first time

Scientists have grown Alzheimer’s disease cells for the first time - and hope it will prove treatment breakthrough

By Lachlan Mackinnon

They said using stem cells from Alzheimer’s patients allows them to overcome the problem of obtaining brain cells - meaning they can learn more about the causes of the illness. Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The authors have shown these cells can reveal vital clues about the biological changes taking place during Alzheimer’s and we hope further studies can expand on these early findings. In light of the recent European ban on patents using human embryonic stem cells, it may prove important to increase our use of technology using these non-embryonic stem cells. We hope studies like this one will drive scientific research forward and help us to understand the biology behind different forms of Alzheimer’s and test new treatments.”

Writing in the jornal Nature, Professor Lawrence Goldstein, director of the University of California’s San Diego Stem Cell Programme, told how the cells were obtained from the skin of two patients with rare genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, two with the most common “sporadic” form - whose cause is unknown - and two healthy people.

These cells were “reprogrammed” into becoming neurons - which send electrical signals around the body - and the experts found those from Alzheimer’s patients contained higher-than-normal levels of a protein linked to the disease. The scientists plan to study how Alzheimer’s disease progresses and causes typical symptoms such as memory loss.

Prof Goldstein said: “The differences between a healthy neuron and an Alzheimer’s neuron are subtle. It basically comes down to low-level mischief accumulating over a very long time, with catastrophic results. At the end of the day, we need to use cells like these to better understand Alzheimer’s and find drugs to treat it. We need to do everything we can because the cost of this disease is just too heavy and horrible to contemplate. Without solutions, it will bankrupt us – emotionally and financially.”

Source: Daily Mirror

Picture credit: Yay Micro/ India Picture

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