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Using stem cells to combat Alzheimer disease in the future

Photo: Ridgewater College (talk), Vet Tech Program, CC BY-SA 3.0

Publish Date: 21.08.2020

Category: Interdisciplinary research, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 3 Good health and well-being (Indicators)

Researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ljubljana, in collaboration with company Animacel, published the results of a study in which they proved that canine stem cells from adipose tissue can be transformed into nerve cells. The study examined the effect of various factors that direct the proper development of nerve cells in the body and discovered the right combination of factors that stimulate canine stem cells from adipose tissue to convert into nerve cells. For the time being, cell differentiation has been demonstrated according to their shape and gene activity in vitro, and further research will be needed to determine whether such cells also function as nerve cells in a living organism.

This research is important mainly from two aspects - adult stem cells have usually attributed a poorer ability to transform into different tissues, but this study shows that a transition between very different cell types, such as stem cells from adipose tissue and nerve cells, is possible without prior cell dedifferentiation into undifferentiated stem cells. However, if these cells will be shown to function functionally as nerve cells, this could represent a significant progress in the development of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases in the future. Dogs often suffer from a disease similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, and one of the treatment options in the future is stem cells, which would be previously developed into nerve cells. Researchers at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Ljubljana are studying this disease in dogs and the possibilities of its treatment, and the results of a present study by Slovenian researchers will contribute to clinical research in dogs, which may later have also interesting implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases in humans.

Scientist dr. Sonja Prpar Mihevc, Vesna Kokondoska Grgic (now employed by Kemomed) and dr. Gregor Majdič from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, dr. Andreja Nataša Kopitar from the Faculty of Medicine and Luka Mohorič from the company Animacel were involved in this study.

Link to the article:

Nevrve cells

Photo: Nerve cells developed from adipose tissue derived stem cells.

Photo taken from article Mihevc, S. P., Grgich, V. K., Kopitar, A. N., Mohorič, L., & Majdic, G. (2020). Neural differentiation of canine mesenchymal stem cells/multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells. (

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