Malin Parmar: “In vivo reprogramming: a novel route to brain repair”


Oh there’s a lot we do is try to make new neurons in a dish and these neurons will make from different sources to be able to make a neuron in a dish we study how these neurons are formed normally during development and then we try to apply this knowledge into the cells that we keep in the culture dishes so then we take the cells that we created in the dish and we transplant them into animal models of brain disease normally we use the rat model for Parkinson’s disease and then we test how these cells survive and function once they’re transplanted back into a brain so this is a model of the human brain and this is what it looks like on the inside and the structures that we try to create new neurons and it’s based here deep within the brain about two years ago my group had this break for discovery where we found that you could take skin cells and then deliver a combined set of genes to these skin cells and that would reprogram them into neurons and the type of neurons that we got where the dopamine neurons which are the type of neuron that are affected in Parkinson’s disease so this is of course good in itself because it’s a new way of generating neurons in addition you could take the patient’s own skin cells and make patient specific neurons to be used for transplantation or disease modeling and then another thing with this technique and this is what the ERC project is about is that you can in skipped this stage in the petri dish totally and instead reprogram cells directly in the brain so in the brain we have the neurons and we also have other types of cells these are the glial cells so the project is about trying to use this technique to reprogram glia cells in the brain directly into neurons and then these neurons will be functional and in the long run be able to then replace for the function of neurons are lost and specific diseases such as a dopamine neurons in Parkinson’s disease so here we have a rat brain that’s been transplanted with cells so the brain is frozen and then this is a very sharp blade that cuts the brain into very very thin slices they’re been stained with an antibody so we can recognize ourselves and then mount it up onto this glass and then this is what we look used to look in the microscope the group here learned I shall develop this technique for patients with Parkinson’s disease and transplanted patients in the 80s and early 90s and one of the problems with this is that there’s just not enough cells in these studies they used aborted embryos so this is what we continue to try to develop new cells that can be used in patients and in the spring we’re doing a new trial with which is the EU based trial with these fetal cells and for this we then have a team of basic scientists and clinicians newer neurologists and neurosurgeons and where they will graph themselves into patients and we hope that in the near future so within the next number of years be able to graft stem cell derived dopamine neurons into patients so my experiments we in my group we didn’t rat models in the extended team that I work in here and learned we do we kind of transfer the knowledge from the animal models and actually do grafting in patients with Parkinson’s disease

2 Replies to “Malin Parmar: “In vivo reprogramming: a novel route to brain repair”

  1. Will there be any epigenetic memory from the in vivo transformed glial cell that in the new neural cell will interfere with wished properties (eg producing dopamin) compared to endogenous dopaminergic neurons?

  2. According to the press release they were the first in the world to re-programme human skin cells, known as fibroblasts, to dopamine-producing nerve cells – without taking a detour via the stem cell stage.

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