(HealthDay News) – Neural stem cells can be generated directly from skin cells by reprogramming with a single factor.

Noting that induced pluripotent stem cells carry a risk of tumor formation and the inability of induced neuronal cells to self-renew in culture, Karen L. Ring, from the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco, and colleagues investigated the generation of induced neural stem cells by direct reprogramming of mouse and human fibroblasts via addition of a single factor, Sox2

The researchers found that the fibroblasts transformed into induced neural stem cells within days. The induced cells had similar morphology, gene expression profiles, and ability to self-renew and form neurospheres as wild-type neural stem cells. The induced cells could differentiate into functional mature neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. When injected into the cortex of mice, the induced cells survived and differentiated into all three cell types. The induced neural stem cells were not tumorigenic.

“Thus, self-renewable and multipotent induced neural stem cells without tumorigenic potential can be generated directly from fibroblasts by reprogramming,” Ring and colleagues conclude.

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