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Korean Research Team Identifies Causes of Dementia Using Stem Cells
Causes of Dementia
Korean Research Team Identifies Causes of Dementia Using Stem Cells
  • By matthew
  • October 14, 2014, 10:55
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An artist's rendering of β-amyloid oligomers (red) and receptor LilrB2 or PirB (green) in neuronal synapses of patients' brains who are affected with Alzheimer’s disease.
An artist's rendering of β-amyloid oligomers (red) and receptor LilrB2 or PirB (green) in neuronal synapses of patients' brains who are affected with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Cell models that replicate the brain's characteristics in Alzheimer’s patients using human nerve stem cells have been created by a Korean research institute. This will be a huge step toward identifying the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI) announced on Oct. 13 that Doctor Kim Young-hye at the Division of Mass Spectrometry Research developed three-dimensional models that recapitulate the pathological characteristics of an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain through three-dimensional differentiation of human stem cells. Using these models, he succeeded in recreating the steps of the amyloid hypothesis, one of the most dominant theories for the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The research was done in cooperation with Professor Kim Doo-yeon at Harvard Medical School and the results were published online at Nature, the most prestigious academic journal worldwide, on October 12.

Doctor Kim inserted mutant genes to human stem cells, and then enabled these cells to be divided and developed into neurons through the three dimensional cultivation technology which has been very popular these days. Accumulation of beta amyloid peptides, main causes of Alzheimer’s, was induced, and senile plagues which are discovered in brain tissues of the Alzheimer’s patients only as well as fascicles of nerve fibers which have been impossible to induce through experimental mice were successfully realized. 

Researches on brain diseases including dementia have been heavily depending on animal experiments, and such researches have confronted many difficulties as brain tissues and physiological phenomena of mice are very different from those of humans. 

Doctor Kim Young-hye said, “This research is the very first case in the world to experimentally prove one of the major theories regarding the mechanisms to cause Alzheimer’s disease. It means a lot in a way that experimental models to expedite the research to develop treatment for Alzheimer’s disease were created. We will continue to work on the follow-up researches to find biomarkers of dementia through the Omics research platform using the best mass spectrometer, which has been established by KBSI.”