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The immediate benefits of a novel stem cell therapy for neurodegenerative conditions

This is Science Today. For the first time, scientists have reprogrammed skin cells into cells that can develop on their own into a functional, interconnected network of brain cells. This novel technique could lead to new therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

Huang:            We don't know if they connect right neurons or wrong way, so there's a lot more work need to be done in order to move forward.

Narrator:        But Dr. Yadong Huang, an investigator at the University of California, San Francisco-affiliated Gladstone Institutes, says this breakthrough does have immediate benefits for patients with neurodegenerative conditions.

Huang:            One is mechanistic studies - we can use these cells to study them in culture. If we understand the mechanism better based on the human neuron studies, we can develop drugs in a better way. Secondly, we can now use the human neurons to screen for the drugs.

Narrator:        Currently, there are no approved medications to prevent or reverse the progression of Alzheimer's disease. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.