Navigation Links
Team of scientists develops non-invasive method to track nerve-cell development in live human brain

A team of scientists including researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have identified and validated the first biomarker that permits neural stem and progenitor cells (NPCs) to be tracked, non-invasively, in the brains of living human subjects. This important advance could lead to significantly better diagnosis and monitoring of brain tumors and a range of serious neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The biomarker is a lipid molecule whose presence the scientists were able consistently to detect in a part of the brain called the hippocampus where new nerve cells are known to be generated. The marker was not detected in the cortex and other parts of the brain where this process, called neurogenesis, does not occur in healthy adults.

As elsewhere in the body, the rise of new cells in the brain is a process that can be traced to stem cells, which, through mechanisms still only partly grasped, give birth to daughter progenitor cells that undergo repeated division and maturation into adult cells. As recently as a few years ago, most scientists did not believe that new nerve cells were created anywhere in the adult brain.

The newly discovered marker can be detected when NPCs stem-like progenitor cells are actively dividing, a mark that new nerve cells are being created. Until now, there was no way to identify and track these cells in living people, to get a dynamic picture of neurogenesis, said Grigori Enikolopov, Ph.D.

A fuller understanding of neural stem and progenitor cells could one day unlock the secret to nervous-system regeneration following stroke or massive trauma. In the nearer-term, discovery of the neural stem-cell biomarker just reported is likely to yield more powerful diagnostics.

The technique the team has developed is based on MRI technology that is currently in widespread use to perform non-invasive scans of the living brain and can tell us where stem-like cells are dividing, said Dr. Enikolopov, whose CSHL lab specializes in the study of stem cells, in the brain and in other tissues. Although we are only just beginning to test applications, it is clear that this biomarker may have promise in identifying cell proliferation in the brain, which can be a sign of cancer. In other patients, it could show us how neurogenesis is related to the course of diseases such as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, MS, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In 2006, Dr. Enikolopov demonstrated that the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) stimulates the creation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus of depressed patients. He later demonstrated that an even more pronounced effect was brought about by other depression treatments, electroconvulsive therapy and deep-brain stimulation.

The recent finding that neural progenitor cells exist in adult human brain has opened a whole new field in neuroscience, said Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which helped fund the work. The ability to track these cells in living people would be a major breakthrough in understanding brain development in children and continued maturation of the adult brain. It could also be a very useful tool for research aimed at influencing NPCs to restore or maintain brain health.

Discovery of the neural stem cell marker relied heavily upon the development of an ingenious algorithm devised by Dr. Petar M. Djuric of SUNY Stony Brook. That mathematical formula made the markers spectroscopic image stand out amid a field filled with visual noise, in much the same way as algorithms used in submarine sonar equipment filter out all ambient noise save that of other subs. Filtering out noise in the brain enabled the team to demonstrate the presence of the biomarker in live animals and in human subjects.


Contact: Jim Bono
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. UK scientists working to help cut ID theft
2. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes
3. Comet probes reveal evidence of origin of life, scientists claim
4. Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
5. Male elephants get photo IDs from scientists
6. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
7. Muscle mass: Scientists identify novel mode of transcriptional regulation during myogenesis
8. Carnegie Mellon scientists develop nanogels that enable controlled delivery of carbohydrate drugs
9. Clemson scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
10. Scientists tackle mystery mountain illness
11. T. rex quicker than Becks, say scientists
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/14/2016)... 14, 2016 BioCatch ™, ... today announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time ... the deployment of its platform at several of the ... which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort ... variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting ... from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled ... cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous ... (CTCs). The new test has already been incorporated ... multiple cancer types. Over 230 clinical ... response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... CAMBRIDGE, Mass. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... the development of novel compounds designed to target ... compound, napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation ... in the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal ... cancer stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class ... across 15 countries. Read More About the Class of ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS Translational ... lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem cells ... this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: