An exciting new advance by researchers in San Francisco could bring new hope for a dementia cure.
Scientists in the US have made a breakthrough in their search for a cure for dementia by discovering a pioneering technique which turns skin cells into brain cells by using a simple cocktail of drugs.
The technique could also be used to make new heart cells, to help cure heart disease, too.
In lab tests more than 97 per cent of heart cells created from skin cells began beating, a characteristic of fully developed, healthy cells.
The cells also responded appropriately to hormones, and molecularly, they resembled heart muscle cells, not skin cells.
Using the same method, brain stem cells were created from skin, making them ideal for treating neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementia or brain injuries.
Professor Yadong Huang, who led the study, said:
‘With their improved safety, these neural stem cells could one day be used for cell replacement therapy in neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease .
‘In the future, we could even imagine treating patients with a drug cocktail that acts on the brain or spinal cord, rejuvenating cells in the brain in real time.’
The research was carried out at the Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, and used a cocktail of just nine chemicals to gradually coax skin cells to change into heart and brain cells.
The method avoids medical concerns surrounding genetic engineering and offers a more efficient and reliable method to reprogram cells.
Interestingly, the research was based on the extraordinary natural regenerative abilities of animals such as newts and salamanders, which have the ability to regrow lost limbs and tails.