Cell conversion?

Hey all you brainiacs out there, I heard about this today and my ears were agog. However, I don't have the brain cells to discern whether what sounds like a promising breakthrough is as promising as it sounds. What do you make of it?

From a State University of New York bulletin: "Cell conversion breakthrough could benefit Parkinson's patients." bit.ly/1ZQUEFk

21 Replies

  • Beckey,

    Thanks for this. I've just read the article & it looks really promising.

  • Hi Becky. I read this recently and it really is good news. The bad news is that if this is successful it will still take at least another 10 years before it will get out into the market place and they will be able to get these new cells into our brains.

    It is up to us to do what we can, in the meantime, to deal with Pd as best we can.


  • I hear you, John

  • There is a group doing similar research in Australia. It got very llittle coverage in the press/media here.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Then we gotta make sure it does, my friend. :)

  • Yes, Beckey, it's very promising - even more so if they get the funding required for clinical trials to begin. I posted a link to the original announcement a month ago (under the title 'Designer Dopamine Neurons') and it seems this latest one is simply an effort to keep the interest in their research alive:



    I sent a brief inquiry at that time and actually received a reply from the lead investigator/senior author of the 'Nature' report, Jian Feng PhD. Providing some insight on the way such developments progress, he stated "We are pushing very hard to the next stage by testing these human neurons in animal brains. They are not ready for clinical trials yet."

    He went on to explain, "What we are trying to do is to find a cure, which takes time, effort and resources. I have received many calls and emails from patients and fully understand the urgency. With the way that the government funds research these days, it is really frustrating that I spend considerable amount of time in getting the funds, rather than doing important research. But this is my calling and we will not stop." Jian Feng, PhD


    Department of Physiology and Biophysics

    School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

    State University of New York at Buffalo

  • Thanks for this important info. I think that each and every individual should show their support and appreciation for this amazing guy's determination and dedication to the task in this difficult, ill-funded, essential, bio-research work.

  • YAH!

  • Hey Beckey, I've just messaged a friend of mine to get his take. He's in the US so I hope for a response later on. Very encouraging those😀👍

  • Direct conversion of human fibroblasts to dopaminergic neurons.

    Pfisterer U1, Kirkeby A, Torper O, Wood J, Nelander J, Dufour A, Björklund A, Lindvall O, Jakobsson J, Parmar M.

    Author information


    Recent reports demonstrate that somatic mouse cells can be directly converted to other mature cell types by using combined expression of defined factors. Here we show that the same strategy can be applied to human embryonic and postnatal fibroblasts. By overexpression of the transcription factors Ascl1, Brn2, and Myt1l, human fibroblasts were efficiently converted to functional neurons. We also demonstrate that the converted neurons can be directed toward distinct functional neurotransmitter phenotypes when the appropriate transcriptional cues are provided together with the three conversion factors. By combining expression of the three conversion factors with expression of two genes involved in dopamine neuron generation, Lmx1a and FoxA2, we could direct the phenotype of the converted cells toward dopaminergic neurons. Such subtype-specific induced neurons derived from human somatic cells could be valuable for disease modeling and cell replacement therapy.

    found abstract of siimilar research....suggested posted research involves embryonic stem cells?

    these authors suggest ae bottom of abstract appling to pluripotent stem cellls in future?


  • Thanks Bill. It's a bit beyond my moderate understanding of bio-chemistry (or whatever field this covers), but I'll post it on to my daughter who's a doctor, lol.

  • Boomster, copied to Research Abstract to alert folks to two issues. Apparently the cells used in the research discussed in the post are

    sourced from human embryos. This has been a problem in the past.

    I also wanted folks to read the bottom comment about developing the process using skin cells as sources (similar to Pluripotent sources) which are currently widely used, implying more hope for the procedure to be widely used.


  • Thanks Bill

  • Fascinating...this is one of the frontiers...If they can grow a new finger in three weeks by skin cell tissue reengineering, why not dopamine replacement in a month or two? Thanks for sharing.

  • Very promising-I have been waiting for this for a long time!!!!

  • Hi Beckey, Wow what break through that would be. My husband went to his neur today and she changed his diagnosis from Parkinsons to My husband has been diagnosed with Parkinsonism, which from I have been told is not Parkinson disease. I am thoroughly confused since he was given meds, Sinemet for Parkinsons. As of today his neurologist decided that it is not making any difference in his condition. I am completely confused. She is taking him off the sinemet, which makes me happy but what is the difference between the 2 conditions is something I would like to know. Right now I am to tired to do the research and so very frustrated. Fingers and toes crossed that they have found a break through. Thanks for the info.



  • Auddonz, I went through that very thing. Then yesterday, my primary care dr asked me, "Did your neurologist say you have Parkinson's disease or Parkinson's syndrome?" Huh???

  • Yes Beckey, I am beginning to think they are all idiots.

  • International stem cell Corp is starting clinical trial almost immediately in Australia. Should have good results within the year or before, they use unfertilized eggs and have had excellent results in animals with no side effects. Buy stock now. I pray that all goes well.

  • Do any of our forum have any advocacy avenues? It would be good if funders and those with influence were made aware of this work. Seems a shame that the guy is delivering and not being noticed.

  • I understand the progress will be made in Japan and in Australia -- they're already ahead of the pack. If we want the U.S. to get in step I guess we should urge the Michael Fox Foundation to turn up the heat. He is a very motivated guy. Excellent point, Jeeves!

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