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Scientists Find Way to Track Stem Cells in Brain
Date:11/8/2007

It could be a breakthrough for neurological research, experts say

THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The identification of a new marker is making it possible to track brain stem cells for the first time, U.S. researchers report.

The achievement is already opening doors to new research into depression, early childhood development and multiple sclerosis, the team's senior author said.

"This is a way to detect these cells in the brain, so that you can track them in certain conditions where we suspect that these cells play a certain role," explained Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, an assistant professor of neurology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

"This is also very applicable for situations where people envision the transplantation of stem cells into the brain," the researcher said.

The breakthrough "is very important, because it now allows us to look and see ways in which to measure changes in endogenous [natural] neural stem cells," agreed Paul Sanberg, director of the Center for Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. He was not involved in the research.

The study was funded by U.S. National Institutes of Health and is published in the Nov. 9 issue of Science.

Diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, as well as traumatic injury or stroke, all cause debilitating injury to the human nervous system and/or brain. However, because stem cells have the potential to develop into other types of cells, scientists believe they might be manipulated to repair or replace lost cells and tissues.

In fact, key parts of the brain already produce their own stem cells, also called progenitor cells.

"There are two major areas where you can find them in the brain -- one is the center for learning and memory, called the hippocampus, and the other is around the brains' ventricles," Maletic-Savatic
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