Imidazole Spurs Neurogenesis | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 29 | p. 28 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 16, 2007

Imidazole Spurs Neurogenesis

Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: JACS In C&EN

Finding a chemical compound that could replace neurons lost through degenerative conditions—including stroke, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's—by activating mature muscle cells and other easily available cells could circumvent the technical and ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells. Researchers have had limited success with compounds that have multiple functions or can only induce neurons to form from embryonic stem cells. Injae Shin and colleagues at Yonsei University, in South Korea, now report the first synthetic small molecule specific enough to induce human muscle tissue to produce neurons (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja072817z). The researchers identified neurodazine (shown) by screening a library of imidazoles against mouse myoblasts, which are well-characterized cells found in muscles that can be differentiated into other types of cells. Bioassays of the mouse cells showed that neurodazine induces neuron-specific activity. The researchers also confirmed that neurodazine triggers production of neurogenic cells in single fibers of muscle tissue isolated from the sole of a human foot.

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