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Stem cell advance a step forward for treatment of brain diseases
Date:12/7/2010

ral stem cells and does so directly from brain tissue. The technology saves months of time and labor in the laboratory and also gives scientists a clearer look than ever before at exactly how stem cells operate in the brain.

In its studies, Goldman's team found some surprises. As expected, certain classes of genes encoding for proteins active in mouse neural stem cells such as members of the Notch and WNT families were highly active. But when the scientists looked more closely, they found that the freshly isolated neural stem cells expressed some genes from these families that were previously virtually unknown in humans, and which had never before been implicated in human brain function. At the same time, some of the genes that are important and active in mouse neural stem cells proved not to be so in the human cells.

"While research in mice and other animals serves as a guide, ultimately you have to study human tissue and humans to really understand disease in people," said Goldman, who is also co-director of Rochester's Center for Translational Neuromedicine. "While the general signaling pathways active in mice and people are very similar, the individual genes are quite different. This is not something we would have predicted. It's a good demonstration that you can't use mouse studies to fully dictate what kinds of therapeutics should be used in people."

The ability to gather human cells more efficiently should aid potential treatments built around transplanting stem cells. In the last few years a couple studies using human neural stem cells in the nervous system have begun in children with incurable brain diseases known as pediatric leukodystrophies. But the field is in its infancy, and Goldman believes that the cell types currently being used will soon be replaced by more effective types of transplantable stem and progenitor cells.

The new technology is built around a piece of DNA that codes for a protein known as Sox2, whi
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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