Most strokes occur when an artery in the brain becomes blocked. Blood flow to neural tissue stops and these tissues usually die. Due to the location of the main arteries in the brain, many strokes affect motor function. Some affect vision, however, causing patients to lose vision or find it compromised or impaired. A research team led by Alexander Chubykin of Purdue University, associate professor of biological sciences at the College of Sciences, in collaboration with the team led by Gong Chen at Jinan University, China, has discovered a way to using gene therapy to transform glial brain cells into neurons, restoring visual function and offering hope for a way to restore motor function.
Neurons do not regenerate. The brain can sometimes remap its neural pathways enough to restore some visual function after a stroke, but this process is slow, inefficient, and for some patients it never happens at all. Stem cell therapy, which can help, relies on finding an immune match and is cumbersome and difficult. This new gene therapy, as demonstrated in a mouse model, is more effective and much more promising.
“We directly reprogram local glial cells into neurons,” Chubykin said. “We don’t have to implant new cells, so there is no immunogenic rejection. This process is easier to do than stem cell therapy, and there is less damage to the brain. brain to heal itself. We can see the connections between old neurons and the newly reprogrammed neurons recovering. We can watch mice regain their vision.
Chubykin’s research is particularly important because visual function is easier to measure than motor skills, using techniques such as optical imaging in living mice to track the development and maturation of newly converted neurons over weeks. Perfecting and understanding this technique could lead to a similar technique of restoring motor function. This research bridges the gap in understanding between the basic interpretation of neurons and organ function.
Source of the story:
- Yu Tang, Qiuyu Wu, Mang Gao, Esther Ryu, Zifei Pei, Samuel T. Kissinger, Yuchen Chen, Abhinav K. Rao, Zongqin Xiang, Tao Wang, Wen Li, Gong Chen, Alexander A. Chubykin. Restoration of visual function and cortical connectivity after ischemic injury using NeuroD1-mediated gene therapy. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 2021; 9 DOI: 10.3389 / fcell.2021.720078
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Purdue University. “Gene therapy can restore vision after stroke.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, October 2, 2021.
Purdue University. (2021, October 2). Gene therapy can restore vision after a stroke. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2021, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211002123006.htm
Purdue University. “Gene therapy can restore vision after stroke.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211002123006.htm (accessed October 2, 2021).