Scientists build human Alzheimer's neurons in lab

For the first time, scientists have created functional human Alzheimer's disease neurons in the lab. Their key ingredient: Stem cells from the skin of patents who suffer from the terrible neurodegenerative disease.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine led by Lawrence Goldstein accomplished this, and details of their findings are published online in the journal Nature. carries an interesting story on the study results.

This finding is significant in the world of Alzheimer's research. Alzheimer's is hard to diagnose, and even harder to treat, with existing options focused on addressing symptoms rather than the disease itself. In research, mouse models or post-mortem tissue studies have had to suffice for scientists seeking to decipher how Alzheimer's functions and ways it might be stopped. So generating functioning human Alzheimer's neurons in the lab will give researchers a significant way to better understand how Alzheimer's functions and progresses.

That said, the new neuron models are only the first of many steps in creating viable Alzheimer's neurons for lab study, Goldstein told More research advances are key here. At least 30 million people globally suffer from the disease, according to a Nature article on the research finding.

Goldstein and his team built the neurons with cells from the skin of four patients with two different variations of Alzheimer's, and two other subjects who didn't have any discernible neurological issues. Next, they reprogrammed the cells into induced pluripotent stem cells. Those cells in turn, began to differentiate into working neurons, the story notes. Those neurons came out "highly purified," according to the researchers--separated from different types of cells--and behaved normally. Most significantly, those cells showed clear Alzheimer's indicators, including hiked up production of beta-amyloid proteins, the story notes.

- here's the story
- check out Nature's take on the news
- read the study abstract

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