Neurons On Demand
Astrocytes in the adult mouse brain can be reprogrammed into neuronal precursors, then neurons, in vivo.
W. Niu et al., “In vivo reprogramming of astrocytes to neuroblasts in the adult brain,” Nat Cell Biol, 15:1164-75, 2013.
Scientists have coaxed differentiated cells to become neuronal progenitor cells many times in vitro. But this had not been accomplished in vivo until Chun-Li Zhang of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas tried injecting different combinations of reprogramming candidates into the brains of older mice. Zhang’s group found that injection of a single transcription factor—SOX2—is necessary and sufficient to convert nonneuronal cells to neuronal precursors called neuroblasts, which can then become functional neurons.