Professor Xiang-Dong Fu, lead author of the San Diego School of Medicine study, said: “Researchers around the world have tried many ways to generate neurons in the lab, using stem cells and other means, so we can study them better, as well as to use them to replace lost neurons in neurodegenerative diseases.
“The fact that we could produce so many neurons in such a relatively easy way came as a big surprise.”
Once researchers understood they could easily create neurons from other types of cells, they decided to see if the method could be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease.
In Parkinson’s, dopamine cells in the brain die, so the researchers used a chemical able to poison dopamine neurons and create symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice to put their method to the test.
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