Although it’s possible to change cells, once a cell has taken a form, it’s used resources. Having a cell shift to a new form seems nuts.
It may be possible, but I’m dubious. I find it more likely that their experiment(s) were contaminated, which seems relatively easy to do in this case.
Anyone with more experience have any thoughts?
I minored in bioengineering, but that was years ago, so I have limited knowledge.
This is really common in the lab now. You can use them to create organoids which are like mini-organs that have a lot of the properties of, say, a lung or a liver or a stomach or a brain, but aren't a full organism. Very useful for making models of mammalian biology.
By the way the discovery that led to this was a huge surprise (at least, that so few factors were required to transform cells) but there is still very little known, IE we can't arbitrarily convert one cell type to another reliably. Culturing mammalian cells is pretty hard.
I just realized this is why they’re called stem cells. Neat.
seems like this stuff is mostly at the basic science stage, with main applications being better disease models (which in neuro is huge). do you have a sense for how far along these are translationally? do the cultured / expanded cells build up lots of mutations? can you induce specific neural cell types, or at least consistently end up with daughter cells that have the same function as their parents? are these processes scalable beyond the quantities needed for this initial work? are there quality methods in place for determining the identity and function of these cells?
One of the reasons stem cell technology is moving so slowly is that, apart from mammalian cell culture being hard, we're extremely anxious about messing with the growth pathways. Tripping up the gene expression is what causes cancer in the first place. We're trying to find exploits in the same machinery to induce novel transformations without kicking the cell into unregulated growth. It's going to be a long time before I let something like that into my body.
 enough terms to conduct your own unbiased web search
Here is a video of that arm of the research. I am neuroimager myself. Not my area. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2211942572153882...
It's quite common to take differentiated cells (e.g. skin cells) and turn them into stem cells, which in turn become all sorts of types of cells.
> Very tedious process, but a race horse is worth enough money to make it possible
only things "worth a lot of money" get the attention?
This leads to many dystopian scenarios IMO
When I read cell biology texts in 2008 the "dogma" was that differentiation was a one way route.
I've had the pleasure of attending classes by a prominent stem cell person who presided over the conference session where Yamanaka presented his findings first. Apparently everyone just thought he was nuts. People only believed it when the original cell paper came out. Definitely one of my favorite biology papers of all time!
Similarly with cell biology which now has enough tools in the toolchest to do amazing things, and every year there is a new technique, a new finding, a new way of putting together the tools.
I really think this will materially change everyone's quality of life when we've got much of the cell manipulation down to engineering rather than science. Organ replacement, cures for illnesses that are incurable, and generally better health for everyone. But its 40 years away at this point before its "common for everyone"
'The 20th Century was the century of the computer, The 21st will be the century of the Cell'.
The premise was that you couldn't revolutionise biology without fast cheap computers.
I wonder if there is a Moore's law equivalent for biology.
We know how this ends.
After spending several years using various methods to deliver small molecules in the mouse brain in vivo, we have not achieved definitive success of chemical conversion inside mouse brains despite the observation of a few neurons after chemical treatment. This is rather disappointing, but we are still continuously trying direct in vivo chemical conversion in the mouse brain. The biggest challenge for in vivo chemical conversion is how to maintain a constant concentration of small molecules inside the brain without causing a severe invasive damage to the brain. We have tried using biomaterial to encapsulate small molecules, but, perhaps because our small molecules are too small or we have not found the right biomaterial for such small molecules, the small molecules we applied might not stay for a long time inside the brain. We also tried an osmotic minipump (Alzet) but the tip of the insertion caused significant tissue damage inside the brain, and the injury induced many DCX+ cells that were mainly reactive astrocytes 2 weeks after drug treatment (Figures S7I–S7K).
Shame, but this is an entirely understandable problem, and these are still early days!
On the other hand, during our vigorous testing of in vivo chemical reprogramming, we accidentally found that core drugs significantly increased adult neurogenesis in the mouse hippocampus (Figure 7). We initially injected core drugs through intracranial injection into the hippocampus and sacrificed the mice 7 days later (Figure 7A). We observed remarkable increase of DCX-labeled newborn neurons together with Ki67-labeled proliferative cells in the dentate granule layer (Figures 7B–7E).
So, not conversion of glia into neurons, but production of new neurons from progenitor cells. That's still really useful! The hippocampus is what gets whacked in a load of different brain disorders (wikipedia tells me Alzheimer's and other dementias, PTSD, schizophrenia, and depression, for starters), so being able to drive neurogenesis there sounds really useful.
Or is it more like those people who inject oil into their muscles in an attempt to look more buff without the work (and often end up looking grotesque instead).
i also dont think we understand enough about the biology of cognition to know how many of what kind of neurons to put where. not to mention any adverse effects, like synapses forming with non-target neurons, etc
Obligatory “in a Petri dish” codicil.
Obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1217/