of Lyonnais regenerate lost neurons

of Lyonnais regenerate lost neurons
of Lyonnais regenerate lost neurons

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or even certain forms of epilepsy: all these pathologies of the central nervous system are associated with the death of neurons leading to functional disorders. Successfully replacing these damaged or lost neurons is one of the objectives of regenerative medicine, in particular by “reprogramming” the identity of certain non-neuronal cells in the diseased brain to transform them into neurons.

And the bet has just been won by a team of researchers associating Inserm, CNRS and the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 in collaboration with King’s College London: they transformed glial cells of the brain into new neurons in a mouse model with mesiotemporal epilepsy, the most common form of drug-resistant epilepsy in humans.

The role of glial cells

Surrounding neurons, glial cells play a role in providing them with nutrients and removing their waste. Long neglected, they are of increasing interest to science. In neuronal death induced by mesiotemporal epilepsy, glial cells multiply without this response solving the problem. But researchers from Lyon have identified genes capable of transforming these glial cells into inhibitory neurons, the loss of which plays a key role in the onset of epileptic seizures. By forcing the expression of these genes, they reprogrammed the identity of glial cells to make them “induced neurons”, whose properties are comparable to those which have disappeared.

Through surgery, the genes were inserted into the brain of mice at the epileptic focus, using deactivated viral vectors inducing reprogramming of glial cells. Within weeks, the vast majority of these glial cells that received the genes had transformed into new neurons.

Various measurements have shown that these are indeed neurons capable of inhibiting the neighboring neurons responsible for the seizures and that a reduction by half of the seizures was observed in the mice thus “reprogrammed”. “These results thus reveal the therapeutic potential of this cellular reprogramming strategy to combat a pathology such as mesiotemporal epilepsy. A boon in the specific case of this disease when 30% of patients who are affected are refractory to pharmacological treatments ”, explains Christophe Heinrich, designer of the study, in a press release.

Even if the road is still long towards the development of therapies, this new strategy opens up a hope of modifying devastating pathologies of our brain.

The study results are published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

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Lyonnais regenerate lost neurons

 
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