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Hebrew University scientists succeed through stem cell therapy in reversing brain birth defects
Date:12/29/2008

Jerusalem, December 28, 2008 Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have succeeded in reversing brain birth defects in animal models, using stem cells to replace defective brain cells.

The work of Prof. Joseph Yanai and his associates at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School was presented at the Tel Aviv Stem Cells Conference last spring and is expected to be presented and published nest year at the seventh annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Barcelona, Spain.

Involved in the project with Prof. Yanai are Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, head of the Department of Neurology at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, and his group, as well as Prof. Ted Slotkin at Duke University in North Carolina, where Prof. Yanai is an adjunct professor.

Neural and behavioral birth defects, such as learning disabilities, are particularly difficult to treat, compared to defects with known cause factors such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, because the prenatal teratogen the substances that cause the abnormalities -- act diffusely in the fetal brain, resulting in multiple defects.

Prof. Yanai and his associates were able to overcome this obstacle in laboratory tests with mice by using mouse embryonic neural stem cells. These cells migrate in the brain, search for the deficiency that caused the defect, and then differentiate into becoming the cells needed to repair the damage.

Generally speaking, stem cells may develop into any type of cell in the body, however at a certain point they begin to commit to a general function, such as neural stem cells, destined to play a role in the brain/ nervous system. At more advanced developmental stages, the neural stem cells take on an even more specific role as neural or glial (supporting) cells within the brain/ nervous system.

In the researchers' animal model, they were able to reverse learning deficits in the offspring of pre
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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