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Summary: Scientists have recently been able to induce embryonic stem cells to differentiate into oligodendroglial progenitor cells (OPCs) which become oligodendrocytes that produce myelin (a thin layer that insulates an axon and increases signal transmission efficiency). The engineered OPCs had no sodium ion channels to generate electric spikes so scientists used viral transduction with Na+ channel DNA on the cells. Compared to natural OPCs, the engineered ones are more likely to become oligodendrocytes (which produce myelin) and both spiking and non-spiking OPC transplants helped produce myelin sheaths in mice that could not produce myelin alone (with spiking OPCs creating thicker and longer myelin sheaths).

Think About:

- What kinds of myelin-related diseases could be cured by engineered spiking OPC transplants?
– How will this research be applied?
– Is OPC transplant the most efficient method of producing myelin in the body?
– What is the importance of myelin and myelin sheaths?

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