Molecular cocktail converts astrocytes to neurons to restore function

Written by Zoe Campbell

Pennsylvania State University scientists have discovered a combination of four molecules, which modulate four signaling pathways, that converts astrocytes into functional neurons.

A research group from The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State; PA, USA) have discovered a number of molecules that could be used to convert glial cells into new neurons. Glial cells normally have a supporting and insulating role for neurons. In many neurodegenerative brain diseases, stroke, or brain injury, neurons are damaged and cannot repair themselves.

“The most significant advantage of the new approach is that a pill containing small molecules could be distributed widely in the world, even reaching rural areas without advanced hospital systems,” proposed Gong Chen, Professor of biology at Penn State and leader of the research team. 

“My ultimate dream is to develop a simple drug delivery system, like a pill, that can help stroke and Alzheimer’s patients around the world to regenerate new neurons and restore their lost learning and memory capabilities.”

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