New insight about appetite-controlling neurons

2 March 2015

For the first time, researchers have been able to transform adult human skin cells into neurons that can help control appetite, which could lead to new therapies to complement bariatric surgery.

Led by a team at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), the study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. A separate study, which was reported in the journal Development, saw a team at Harvard University also succeed in creating hypothalamic neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. 

The neurons included in the research are key for helping regulate behavioural and basic physiological functions in the human body, such as appetite. Both teams have reported their findings, which co-validate each other.

Senior author Dr Rudolph L. Leibel, who is professor of pediatrics and medicine, and co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at CUMC, said the inability to use human cells has greatly limited research relating to "fundamental aspects of human obesity".

To create the neurons, human skin cells were genetically reprogrammed to become iPS cells, which are capable of developing into any type of cell.

"The ability to make this type of neuron brings us one step closer to the development of new treatments for obesity," said Susan L. Solomon, chief executive of NYSCF.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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