Home science Vision can be restored by genetically reprogramming brain cells

Vision can be restored by genetically reprogramming brain cells

Vision can be restored by genetically reprogramming brain cells

10/04/2021 at 5:57pm CST

A new study from Purdue University in the US enabled mice with stroke to restore vision. The scientists applied a gene-editing technique that turns glial cells into neurons, after which they develop the synapses needed to start visual processes. When tested in humans, the system could also be effective in restoring motor function affected by cerebrovascular dysfunctions.

The glial cells They are a type of cell in the nervous system that together with neurons make up the central and peripheral nervous system. They support neurons in various functions, and they are significantly more abundant than the neurons themselves in the brain: if we consider that there are about one hundred trillion neurons in our brain, then the number of glial cells is ten times more important. At the same time, they develop important metabolic functions and facilitate communication and integration of neural networks.

Scientists are rediscovering these cells, which historically were neurons because they lacked the ability to send electrical impulses. For example, it can be manipulated by editing genes into converted into functional neurons, as verified in the new study, recently published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

Related topic: New glial cells can repair the brain.

New neurons restore lost functions

New neurons restore lost functionsSince neurons cannot regenerate on their own, reprogramming local glial cells into active neurons could be the key to not only restoring visual function, but also Restore all kinds of lost physical abilities due to impaired brain function.

According to a press release, this gene therapy is simpler and more promising than the treatment done with mother cellsIn addition to reducing side effects. The specialists explained that reprogramming does not include transplanting new cells and avoiding rejection of the immune system.

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Ultimately, specialists argue that they help the brain heal itself. They were able to investigate how to recreate the connections between old neurons and newly reprogrammed neurons, and enjoy how mice They found their vision. As if that wasn’t enough, the new genetic technology It would also be effective in treating diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among others.

Enter new information

How did you get Reprogramming to glial cells? The technology developed uses a genetic transcription factor called NEUROD1, along with other related factors. It has already been shown that these agents promote neurogenesis during normal brain development.

By “injecting” it into the glial cells, it allows them to obtain the genetic information contained in the neurons and, in turn, behave like them. The results of the new study indicate that neurons are reprogrammed with Newrod 1 They can be successfully developed and integrated into the visual cortical circuit, allowing vision to be restored after brain injury.

The possibility of benefiting from this technique in humans does not seem very remote: previous studies have already reported the successful conversion of cortical astrocytes (a subtype of glial cells) into functional neurons by a similar methodology, for both ferrets and ferrets. . The brains of non-human primates.


Restoration of visual function and cortical connectivity after ischemic injury using NeuroD1-mediated gene therapy. Thanks to NeuroD1-mediated gene therapy

Tang Yu, Wu Qiuyu, Gao Mang, Ryu Esther, Bei Zhifei, Kissinger Samuel T, Chen Yuchen, and Rao Abinav K. , Xiang Zongqin, Wang Tao, Li Wen, Qin Gong, and Chubekin Alexander A. 2021 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2021.720078

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Photo: Gerd Altman on Pixabay.


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