Cells in identity crisis
With the discovery that skin cells can be converted directly into brain cells, it has been proven that the "identity" of our body cells is not permanently fixed.
But when brain cells no longer know for sure that they are brain cells and slip into an "identity crisis" it becomes problematic - they can divide uncontrollably or lose their function, with consequences such as cancer or neuropsychiatric diseases.
Moritz Mall is researching molecular switches that determine the identity of brain cells - so-called "sentinels". What happens when these sentinels fail or are not present at all? What medical possibilities does the alteration of cell identities open up? Will we be able to cure all neurological diseases in the future?
Dr. Moritz Mall is a biologist and head of the junior research group Engineering of Cell Identities and Disease Models at the Hector Institute for Transnational Brain Research (HITBR), a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and the Central Institute of Mental Health (IZ) in Mannheim. After completing his doctorate at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), he conducted research at Stanford University in California.
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