Fat Cells Can Be Turned Into Nerve Cells

Mouse fat cells can be turned into functional nerve cells, says a Duke University Medical Center study in the June 1 issue of Experimental Neurology. This finding suggests it may be possible to use fat cells, which offer a practically limitless resource, to create nerve cells to treat injury and disease damage in human central and peripheral nervous systems. The Duke researchers used a combination of growth factors and induction agents to transform the mouse fat cells into two types of nerve cells -- neurons and glial cells. Neurons transport electrical signals from cell to cell. Glial cells surround neurons like a sheath.

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