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UW study is key step toward treating disease with stem cells

By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

In a powerful demonstration of reprogramming's potential to treat human disease and injury, scientists at University of Wisconsin-Madison turned a rhesus monkey's skin cells into early brain cells, then implanted them successfully in the monkey's brain.

The experiment, published Thursday in the journal Cell Reports, worked so well that the reprogrammed cells grafted onto the brain and appeared indistinguishable from the cells already there. Scientists were able to identify the new cells only because they had been tagged with a glowing green fluorescent protein.

Before being injected with their own cells, the three monkeys in the study were engineered to simulate the effects of Parkinson's Disease.

Although the experiment was carried out on monkeys, the results suggest that such an approach could work in humans, raising the possibility that doctors might someday replace the neurons lost to Parkinson's or the cells damaged in spinal cord injuries.

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