Research: Making repair from cellular weeds

Epub: Najm et al. Transcription factor-mediated reprogramming of fibroblasts to expandable, myelinogenic oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Nat Biotechnol. 2013 Apr.

Cell-based therapies for myelin disorders, such as multiple sclerosis require technologies to generate functional oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Here we describe direct conversion of mouse embryonic and lung fibroblasts to induced oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (iOPCs) using sets of either eight or three defined transcription factors. iOPCs exhibit a bipolar morphology and global gene expression profile consistent with bona fide OPCs. They can be expanded in vitro for at least five passages while retaining the ability to differentiate into multiprocessed oligodendrocytes. When transplanted to hypomyelinated mice, iOPCs are capable of ensheathing host axons and generating compact myelin. Lineage conversion of somatic cells to expandable iOPCs provides a strategy to study the molecular control of oligodendrocyte lineage identity and may facilitate neurological disease modeling and autologous remyelinating therapies.

This study looks at mice and shows that mouse fibroblasts can be reprogrammed to become immature oligodendrocyte by introduction of a limited number of cell signalling molecules. These could then become functional and myelinate. Fibroblasts are tissue supporting cells that are the weeds of tissue culture and are easy to grow. Therefore they could be grown from any body including you or me, so it could be a source of designer repair cells. This is exciting stuff.The next phase will be to show that the same applies to human fibroblasts as they could use different cues.

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  • Very very interesting MD and just what the Dr ordered as a pick me up for progressive MS'rs.

    Regards as always.

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