Research Redefining Proteins' Role in Sensory Neurons Formation

Published By : 20 Sep 2017 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

A recent study by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), analyzed the role played by a special type of proteins present in the spinal cord in the formation of neurons or nervous system cells. Their findings have invalidated a common belief propagated by earlier research that suggested that varying these proteins, known as bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), led to the formation of varying categories of these neurons.

Study to Guide Therapies for Restoring Sense of Touch in Paralyzed Patients

The study conducted by a team of researchers at Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA. Led by Samantha Butler, Associate Professor at UCLA focused on the role played by a special class of neurons known as sensory interneurons. The details of the research is published in the open-access journal eLife. The findings are believed to useful in therapeutic interventions that replace damaged tissues with sensory interneurons derived from stem cells. In the coming years, they will prove useful in guiding stem cell-based therapies for restoring the sense of touch and movement in paralyzed patients.

Adding Specific Types of Proteins Results in Different Sensory Interneurons

The research, contended Butler, reaffirmed the importance of sensation in paralyzed patients and further established the key role played by various categories of sensory interneurons. Previous studies have suggested that the presence of BMP in lower concentration just produced one category these. Furthermore, increasing the concentration resulted in the formation of different categories of these neurons. The recent study conducted on the spinal cord of chicken embryo, however, has overturned this belief as the team of researchers found that the production of one category isn’t dependent on the concentration of BMP. Rather, while by conducting experiments on mouse embryonic stem cells in lab dishes, they found that adding specific types of BMPs can trigger spinal cord to produce different types of sensory interneurons.

The investigators hope to test their findings in human stem cells and further use them in developing robust drug testing platforms targeting diseased sensory interneurons.

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