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For first time, brain cells generated in a dish

gh a method called live-cell microscopy, so we've actually witnessed the stem cell give rise to new neurons. Possibly a different method may come up to identify the mother of all stem cells, but we're confident this is it."

During experiments, scientists collected cells from mice and used chemicals to induce them to differentiate. During the process, they snapped images of the cells every five minutes for up to 30 hours and compiled the images into movies. Traditional ways to attempt neurogenesis have been unable to so closely duplicate the natural process. They also haven't allowed scientists to monitor the entire sequence of cell development from primitive states to functional neurons and expose the electrophysiological properties of the cells.

A little more than a decade ago, scientists came to realize that the brain continues to produce small amounts of new cells even in adulthood, overturning the belief that people are born with a fixed amount of brain cells that must last them throughout their lives.

In people, stem cells develop naturally into full-fledged brain cells as they travel through a neural pathway that begins deep within the brain in a region called the subventricular zone. The primitive cells mature along the way, finishing as neurons in a spot called the olfactory bulb.

In the laboratory cultures, the cells still move about, but the pathway is no longer important, showing that neurogenesis does not necessarily require the environmental cues of the host brain.

The natural development of stem cells in the brain is very similar to the lifelong production of blood cells in the human body called hematopoiesis, with "poiesis" derived from the Greek word meaning "to make."

Scientists in Steindler's lab noticed the similarities between primitive cell development in blood and in the brain in the late 1990s, calling the process "neuropoiesis."

"The exciting part is we are actually using methods that re
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Source:University of Florida


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