Navigation Links
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 explained.

Like other adult stem cells in the body, these cells are held in reserve, so they can develop into new or replacement cells -- in this case, brain cells.

Stem cells in the hippocampus are particularly useful, because humans keep collecting memories. "Memories always change," Sanberg pointed out, so the brain needs new cells with which to store and interpret them.

But research in this area has been stymied by the fact that scientists haven't had any means of tracking neural stem cells. A noninvasive technology called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) has long been used to track the brain's two dominant cell types -- neurons and glial cells -- because scientists discovered molecular markers that reliably identify them on MRS.

But a marker for brain stem cells has remained elusive -- until now.

Using cutting-edge scanning and computer technology, Maletic-Savatic's team has discovered a chemical signature -- as yet unnamed -- that distinctly characterizes neural stem cells. "We think that it's a complex lipid or lipoprotein," the Stony Brook researcher said. Further investigation is under way to define and describe the molecule's identity, she added.

In MRS imaging studies in mice and rats, as well as in healthy human volunteers, the researchers tracked the quantity and location of neural progenitor cells in the brain. They even transplanted some of these cells into an adult rat's brain and used MRS to verify the transplant's location.

And in another first, Maletic-Savatic's team compared the concentrations of neural progenitor cells in the brains of young children, adolescents and adult humans. They found that -- as had been suspected from animal studies -- the number of these cells in the brain decreases markedly with age.

"We were actually really surprised that there was such a dramatic decline," Maletic-Savatic said.

The researcher said she's already planning to use the new tracking technology in a variety of neurological studies.

For example, it is suspected that antidepressants work by boosting the creation of new brain cells. With that in mind, Maletic-Savatic's team will use MRS to "clarify whether abnormalities in these progenitors have any role in causing depression," she said.

And, because she is primarily a pediatric neurologist, Maletic-Savatic said she is also planning a study looking at the cells' role in early brain development, "particularly in premature babies who can develop cerebral palsy and mental retardation."

Finally, multiple sclerosis patients may also benefit from MRS-guided research into neural stem cells.

"We are now doing a study that already started a year ago on patients with MS, and we plan to prospectively follow them and see whether we can use this biomarker as a prognostic tool," Maletic-Savatic said.

Research into a wide variety of brain disorders could also benefit from this type of stem cell research she added. Tracking stem cells in the brain has obvious implications for research into stem cell transplantation, but Maletic-Savatic said breakthroughs in that area are probably years away.

"On the other hand, if we find drugs or ways that can stimulate your own endogenous cells, that would be even better," she said.

Sanberg agreed that the ability of researchers to track neural stem cells is a boon to brain research.

"To be able to show that you are increasing neurogenesis in the brain through your treatment -- through drugs that induce neurogenesis -- that's going to be very important," he said. "This is a really strong first step."

More information

Find out more on stem cells at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.



SOURCES: Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, neurology, State University of New York, Stony Brook; Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., distinguished university professor and director, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa; Nov. 9, 2007, Science


'/>"/>
Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. New prion protein discovered by Canadian scientists may offer insight into mad cow disease
2. Scientists Probe Sepsis Deadly Secrets
3. Scientists puzzled by severe allergic reaction to cancer drug in the middle Southern US
4. Scientists Develop Natural Protection for Stored Foods
5. Scientists detect presence of marburg virus in african fruit bats
6. Scientists Spot Brains Free Will Center
7. Scientists ID Likely Culprit in Popcorn Lung
8. Scientists explain how insulin secreting cells maintain their glucose sensitivity
9. Scripps Research scientists shed new light on how antibodies fight HIV
10. Scientists, physicians present latest findings in personalized cancer treatment and prevention
11. Scientists demonstate link between genetic variant and effectiveness of smoking cessation meds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists Find Way to Track Stem Cells in Brain
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... for human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and other difficult to transfect cells, ... Cloning Medium. The PluriQ™ G9™ Gene Editing System is a complete ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... To ... infrastructure. Most providers, however, are unsure how to move forward, given the need ... define a path forward tailored to an organization’s specific needs. , PYA Principal ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... SpiritQuest Sedona ... heart of West Sedona, surrounded by famous vortex sites: Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and ... partner properties – the Lodge at Sedona as well as the Sedona Rouge, both ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... An ... may expose a possible link between head and neck cancer in individuals with unhealthy ... the study were evaluated based on whether they had gum disease, brushed their teeth ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... SyncDog, Inc. , the leading ... is featured in the current issue of Silicon Review magazine. Silicon ... technology solutions and features them in their magazine. The magazine allows top-level executives ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANKLIN, Tenn. , June 23, 2016 ... for automating, integrating and transforming the patient ... launch of several innovative new products and ... depth of its revenue cycle offerings. These ... establish more efficient workflows, remain compliant in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Leading ... that address medical conditions resulting from a breakdown ... has appointed Greg Doyle as chief ... Leading BioSciences, executive management team and board of ... chief financial officer. He will provide continued leadership ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the NASDAQ ... Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish at ... Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following equities: Alkermes PLC ... AMAG ), IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (NASDAQ: IDXX ... Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free trade ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: