Human Cadaver Brains May Provide New Stem Cells

by Charles Choi ,  Fox | 2012-10-19

Death will come for us all one day, but life will not fade from our bodies all at once. After our lungs stop breathing, our hearts stop beating, our minds stop racing, our bodies cool, and long after our vital signs cease, little pockets of cells can live for days, even weeks. Now scientists have harvested such cells from the scalps and brain linings of human corpses and reprogrammed them into stem cells.

In other words, dead people can yield living cells that can be converted into any cell or tissue in the body. As such, this work could help lead to novel stem cell therapies and shed light on a variety of mental disorders, such asschizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder, which may stem from problems with development, researchers say.

Making stem cells

Mature cells can be made or induced to become immature cells, known as pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to become any tissue in the body and potentially can replace cells destroyed by disease or injury. This discovery was honored with the Nobel Prize.

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