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Neuronal signal can turn astrocytes neuroprotective - implications for ALS

There has been an increasing scientific excitement and growing interest on the role of glial cells, the non-neuronal cell types in the brain and spinal cord, which can be harmful in some neurological diseases but in some cases they also turn protective. This would make them attractive targets for new treatments in neurodegenerative diseases, however, the mechanism by which they can be rendered to mediate repair has been unclear.

Research groups led by Dr Andras Lakatos at the University of Cambridge and by Dr Rickie Patani at the University College London have discovered a new pathway by which a major glial cell type, the astrocyte can be manipulated to induce the survival of motor neurones. Importantly, in particular, they also show that this protective mechanism fails in an ALS patient-specific stem cell model of Motor Neuron Disease (using human iPSCs), opening up new potential therapeutic avenues for this invariably fatal and incurable condition. This work has been been published in Nature communications on Friday, 27 October 2017.

Posted on 27/10/2017

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