2 May 2002
Scientists may have found a new way of creating new nerve cells.
Researchers at the University of Oslo found skin cells incubated in extracts taken from nerve cells started to look like nerves and began activating genes which nerves use. After the cells divided, the new cells still looked like nerves. Though they have yet to check whether the re-programmed cells function as nerves or immune cells, they say their research points the way to treatments as promising as stem cell therapies, without the ethical problems. Using a patient's own skin cells would also help avoid problems of tissue rejection.