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Reprogrammed skin cells restore motor function in stroke-affected mice

Date: 29.3.2021 

Scientists continue to break new ground in the realm of cellular reprogramming, a burgeoning area of medical research where one type of cell is retrained to fulfill the role of another.

Kredit: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.A team at Ohio State University (OSU) has leveraged this technology to repair damaged tissue in mice with stroke-affected brains, a technique it hopes could one day help restore speech and motor function in human victims of the injury.

Time is of the essence in the event of a stroke, where the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly disrupted, most often caused by an arterial blockage. These are known as ischemic strokes, and treatments are available to break apart the clots that form and block the arteries, but need to be administered within hours to be effective and avoid long-lasting damage to brain tissue.

This long-lasting damage includes impaired speech and motor and cognitive function, and as it stands there are no treatments available for these lingering effects. The OSU team sought to tackle this problem by using skin cells as its starting point. The scientists used a technique they call tissue nanotransfection, where genetic material is introduced into the cells, which retrains them to become vascular cells.

“We can rewrite the genetic code of skin cells so that they can become blood vessel cells,” said Daniel Gallego-Perez, who led the research team. “When they’re deployed into the brain, they’re able to grow new, healthy vascular tissue to restore normal blood supply and aid in the repair of damaged brain tissue.”





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