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A step forward in neuronal regeneration


Dj, 11/07/2013 - 18:10

A step forward in neuronal regeneration



  • Researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have discovered a pathway that triggers the reprogramming and regeneration of retinal neurones.
  • The work will be published on July 11 in the journal Cell Reports and reveals that the reprogramming of retinal neurones is possible and also describes a new mechanism for regenerating neural tissue.

Researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona have managed to regenerate the retina of a mouse thanks to neuronal reprogramming. There are currently several lines of research that explore the possibility of tissue regeneration through cell reprogramming. One of the mechanisms being studied is reprogramming through cell fusion.

The researcher Pia Cosma and her team have used the cell fusion mechanism to reprogramme the neurones in the retina. This mechanism consists of introducing bone marrow stem cells into the damaged retina. The new undifferentiated cells fuse with the retinal neurones and these acquire the ability to regenerate the tissue.

For the first time we have managed to regenerate the retina and reprogramme its neurones through in vivo cell fusion. We have identified a signalling pathway that, once activated, allows the neurones to be reprogrammed through their fusion with bone marrow cells", explains Pia Cosma, head of the Reprogramming and Regeneration group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation and ICREA research professor. "This discovery is important not only because of the possible medical applications for retinal regeneration but also for the possible regeneration of other nervous tissues", says Daniela Sanges, first author of the work and postdoctoral researcher in Pia Cosma's laboratory.

The study, published by the prestigious journal Cell Reports, demonstrates that the regeneration of nervous tissue by means of cell fusion is possible in mammals and describes this new technique as a potential mechanism for the regeneration of more complex nervous tissue.

This research is in the very early stages but already there are laboratories interested in being able to continue the work and take it to a more applied level.

Reference article: Sanges D, Romo N, Simonte G, Di Vicino U, Diaz Tahoces A, Fernández E and Cosma MP. "Wnt/β-Catenin Signalling Triggers Neuron Reprogramming and Regeneration in the Mouse Retina" Cell Reports. July 11, 2013. (Link)

Acknowledgements: This work has been made possible thanks to the support and funding of the European Research Council (ERC) (242630-RERE), the Human Frontier Science Programme, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (SAF2011-28580), the TV3 Fundació La Marató, AXA Research Fund, Juan de la Cierva and Boeringher Ingelheim

Information on the picture: this illustration appeared in the web version o the paper in Cell Reports under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works license

For further information and interviews: Laia Cendrós, Press Office - Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG). Tel. +34 93 316 02 37.

A stained vertical wild-type retinal section (left) and a schematic representation of retinal tissue (right). (image from Cell reports under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works license)