Converting Stem Cell to Nerve Cell

Cellular Path to Reversing Paralysis

Stem Cells - UCLA

Researchers at UCLA have turned human stem cells into sensory interneurons.  These are the cells that give us a sense of touch.  This could be a step toward stem-cell based therapies to restore feeling in people paralyzed who have lost sensation in parts of their body.

Neurons
Sensory interneurons are a type of neuron in the spinal cord.  They relay information from throughout the body to the central nervous system, which enables a sense of touch.  Creating nerve cells from stem cells is a first. The researchers also did so while maintaining the genetic code of the person they originated from.  That's important because the scientists say it eliminates immune suppression.

Ongoing Research with Significant Potential
Lead researcher Asso. Prof. Samantha Butler noted that you need to be able to feel and sense your body in space in order to walk.  Feeling and walking go hand-in-hand.  This breakthrough research could eventually lead to cell-based treatments for paralysis.