Synthetic Molecule Induces Neuron Growth In Human Muscle | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: July 12, 2007

Synthetic Molecule Induces Neuron Growth In Human Muscle

Imidazole compound could provide way to bypass embryonic stem cells for treating degenerative diseases
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Stem Cells
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 candidate natural compounds, which have multiple functions or can induce neurons to form only 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 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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