neurons from stem cells

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Tue Apr 04 2000 - 00:34:03 MDT

World first: Monash team grows nerve cells

             By MARY-ANNE TOY
             HEALTH EDITOR
             Tuesday 4 April 2000

             Australian scientists have become the first
             in the world to grow human nerve cells from
             embryonic stem cells - opening the way for
             new treatments for degenerative diseases
             such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke.

             The breakthrough was made by Professor
             Alan Trounson and Dr Martin Pera of the
             Monash Institute of Reproduction and
             Development at Monash University, with
             colleagues from Israel and Singapore.

             The human nerve cells created by the Monash group could
             also be used for the repair of damaged nerve tissue and brings
             the possibility of growing new tissue and even organs for
             transplant closer.

             Embryonic (ES) stem cells are cells derived from the early
             embryo, which have the potential to become any cell in the
             body. Until now, scientists have been unable to work out how
             to control the stem cells and direct them to grow into specific
             body cells.

             The Monash group are the first to show it is possible to get
             human embryonic stem cells to turn into specific types of body
             cells in the laboratory in a controllable way.

             "We've been able to get them to form pure nerve cells out of
             the embryonic stem cell line - no one has done that before,"
             Professor Trounson said.

             "And if these nerve cells produce dopamine they could be used
             to treat Parkinson's disease, for example, or in any nerve
             tissue repair where there has been an injury.

             "The implications are just massive. If we can do this then the
             next thing may be to grow blood cells to treat blood diseases or
             muscle cells."

             The breakthrough is the cover story of the international
             journal Nature Biotechnology this week. [etc]

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