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Reprogramming Cellular Identity

In this episode, we discussed the meaning of cellular identity, how we can change the identity of cells in the brain, and the implications for regenerative medicine. We were joined by Sydney Leaman, a PhD student in the Berninger lab at the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, where he is currently researching reprogramming cellular identity in the brain, specifically the cortex.

Listen to the episode here

The main technique that people are driving forward for the regeneration of dead brain tissue, following injury, ischemia, or in disease, is to convert cells known as glia, which are highly plastic and have adaptive functions responding to immune activation and injury, into the all-important neurons. This is known as glia-to-neuron conversion. You can find out more about what glia are at this link.

Read an excellent review on the topic of in vivo written by Sydney and colleagues here , and another review about the challenges and opportunities of glia-to-neuron conversion here.

One significant study by Lentini et al. (2021) managed to reprogramme glia into a specific type of neurons, known as inhibitory interneurons, in order reduce chronic seizures in a rodent model of epilepsy, revealing potential clinical applications of glia-to-neuron conversion.

Find out more about the research happening in the Berninger lab

Artwork for this episode was created by Raji Salan (


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