A University of Wisconsin-Madison research group has converted skin cells from people and monkeys into a cell that can form a wide variety of nervous-system cells — without passing through the do-it-all stage called the induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPSC.
“The novelty is that this is a combined cell and gene therapy approach,” Suzuki explains, noting that the bone marrow stem cells on their own had a modest effect, possibly by releasing their own protective factors. “But only when we engineered the cells to release GDNF did we see a significant improvement. The cells turned out to be quite an important component. It’s this combination of cells and drug delivery that seems to be so effective.”