Wernig

A fifth group turns skin to neurons, creating a model for Alzheimer's disease

A few weeks ago, my colleague used this space to discuss the second and third papers showing teams had turned skin cells directly into neurons, noting that this replication of research results is essential to verifying the initial breakthrough while refining and improving it. She noted that only after much replication and refinement would she or anyone else want the resulting cells for therapy.

Improved technique for directly converting skin to neurons

This is the way things often go in science: One group announces a breakthrough. Yah! Then for the next several years, scientists all over the world replicate and improve on that breakthrough until it's finally believable and widely useful.

To people outside science who read about the initial breakthrough, this may look a lot like scientists twiddling their thumbs, sitting on new therapies. But really, do you want a therapy based on a breakthrough that may or may not be real? Right, neither do I.

Marius Wernig on why we need many stem cell approaches to new therapies

Last week we blogged about work by Marius Wernig of Stanford University, who has successfully converted human skin into nerves, skipping the step of first converting the cells into embryonic-like iPS cells.

Wernig is quoted in a Nature news story talking about whether the work could replace induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells or embryonic stem cells:

CIRM grantees convert skin to nerves, a step toward therapies for neurological disease

Last year a group of CIRM grantees at Stanford University directly converted mouse skin cells into neurons, bypassing the need to first convert those cells into an embryonic-like state. Now they've gone a step farther, pulling off the same feat with human cells. They published the work in the May 26 Nature.

Krista Conger at Stanford University blogged about that work , quoting senior author Marius Wernig:

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