The team said that the results of its latest experiments provide the most compelling scientific evidence to date that researchers will in the future be able to take cells from a practically limitless source -- fat -- and retrain them to differentiate along new developmental paths. These cells, they said, could then be used to possibly treat a number of human ailments of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
The results of the team's latest experiments were published June 1, 2004, in the journal Experimental Neurology.
Using a cocktail of growth factors and induction agents, the researchers transformed cells isolated from mouse fat, also known as adipose tissue, into two important nerve cell types: neurons and glial cells. Neurons carry electrical signals from cell to cell, while glial cells surround neurons like a sheath.
"We have demonstrated that within fat tissue there is a population of stromal cells that can differentiate into different types of cells with many of the characteristics of neuronal and glial cells," said Duke's Kristine Safford, first author of the paper. "These findings support more research into developing adipose tissue as a viable source for cellular-based therapies."
Over the past several years, Duke scientists have demonstrated the ability to reprogram these adipose-derived adult stromal cells into fat, cartilage and bone cells. All of these cells arise from mesenchymal, or connective tissue, parentage. However, the latest experiments have demonstrated that researchers can transform these cells from fat into a totally different lineage.
Earlier this year, Duke researchers demonstrated that these adipose-derived cells are truly adult st
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center