Dr. Injae ShinThe ScienceDaily article Toward An Alternative To Stem Cells For Treating Chronic Brain Diseases said
With ethical issues concerning use of discarded embryos and technical problems hindering development of stem cell therapies, scientists in Korea are reporting the first successful use of a drug-like molecule to transform human muscle cells into nerve cells. This advance could lead to new treatments for stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
In the study, Injae Shin and colleagues point out that stem cell research shows promise for repairing or replacing damaged nerve cells to treat such diseases. However, many barriers hinder efforts to move those therapies from lab to clinic. The use of “small molecules” compounds that include most drugs to generate new nerve cells from easily available cells or tissues would provide a more convenient and attractive approach to stem cell therapies, the new study notes.
The researchers exposed immature mouse muscle cells (myoblasts) growing in laboratory cell cultures to neurodazine, a synthetic small molecule. After one week, 40–50 percent of the myoblasts were transformed into cells that resembled both the structure and function of nerve cells, including expression of neuron-specific proteins.
Injae Shin, Ph.D.
is professor of Department of Chemistry at Yonsei University and has
been a program leader of National Research Laboratory in the field of
Chemical Biology since 2005. His main research interest is “to
understand biological processes using synthetic organic
Injae has worked on functional studies of glycans using chemical tools, functional studies of proteins using synthetic small molecules and development of novel target-oriented drug delivery systems over ten years. His recent publications include fabrication and applications of carbohydrate microarrays for functional glycomics, preparation of novel bioactive compounds and their applications for inducing neurogenesis in skeletal muscle. It is believed that these works will contribute much to understanding of biological phenomena and development of novel therapeutic agents.
He coauthored Probing the environment along the protein import pathways in yeast mitochondria by site-specific photocrosslinking, A Double-Walled Hexagonal Supermolecule Assembled by Guest Binding, Carbohydrate Chips for Studying High-Throughput Carbohydrate-Protein Interactions, Uncoupling of transfer of the presequence and unfolding of the mature domain in precursor translocation across the mitochondrial outer membrane, Tom40 protein import channel binds to non-native proteins and prevents their aggregation, and Energetic Analysis of an Engineered Cation-∏ Interaction in Staphylococcal Nuclease. Read his full list of publications!
Injae earned his B.S. degree from Seoul National University, Korea in 1985 and his M.S. degree from the same university in 1987. He completed his Ph.D on mechanistic studies of acyl-CoA Dehydragenases using synthetic compounds at the University of Minnesota, USA in 1995. After his Ph.D, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley, as a post-doctoral fellow for functional studies of proteins using unnatural amino acid site-directed mutagenesis approach with professor Peter Schultz. He an international advisory board member of ChemMedChem and an editorial board member of Current Chemical Biology.