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Discovery of key pathway interaction may lead to therapies that aid brain growth and repair
Date:9/16/2010

WASHINGTON, DCResearchers at the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National Medical Center have discovered that the two major types of signaling pathways activated during brain cell developmentthe epidermal growth factor receptor pathway and the Notch pathwayoperate together to determine how many and which types of brain cells are created during growth and repair in developing and adult brains. This knowledge may help scientists design new ways to induce the brain to repair itself when these signals are interrupted, and indicate a need for further research to determine whether disruptions of these pathways in early brain development could lead to common neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.

"By understanding how these cellular signaling pathways operate in the brain, we may be able to develop genetic or molecular approaches that target those signals to facilitate or induce regeneration of the brain from neural stem cells," said Vittorio Gallo, PhD, director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National. "These signaling pathways, normally activated during brain development, work in concert through the cellular microenvironment and through interactions with existing brain cells to determine how many of each type of brain cell are required for proper brain function."

These findings will be published in the September issue of Nature.

Dr. Gallo and the research team used an approach in a laboratory setting that modified genes involved in the two signaling pathways. This approach induced gain or loss of function, allowing researchers to change the properties of neural stem cells as they developedincluding altering the size of the pool of
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Contact: Jennifer Stinebiser
jstinebi@cnmc.org
202-476-4500
Children's National Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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