Study: How stem cells become brain cells

Dec 15, 2005

Oregon Health and Science University researchers say they've discovered a gene that appears to control how stem cells become brain cells.

Scientists at the Portland-based university's National Primate Research Center say the finding has significant implications for the study of Parkinson's disease, brain and spinal cord injury, and other conditions or diseases that might be combated by replacing lost or damaged brain cells.

"In the early stages of brain development prior to birth, brain stem cells, also known as neural stem cells, will differentiate into neurons," explained Larry Sherman, an adjunct associate professor of cell and developmental biology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "In later stages, these same stem cells suddenly start becoming glial cells, which perform a number of functions that include supporting the neurons.

"We wanted to find out what factors cause this switch in differentiation. We also wanted to determine if the process can be controlled and used as a possible therapy," said Sherman. "What amazed us is that it turns out a single gene may be responsible for this incredibly important task."

The research is published in the current online edition of the medical journal Developmental Biology.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Huntington acquires Louis Pasteur's notes on brewing beer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Do viruses make us smarter?

Jan 12, 2015

A new study from Lund University in Sweden indicates that inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterise the human brain.

Baby cells learn to communicate using the lsd1 gene

Dec 15, 2014

We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently born ...

Clearer future for blind thanks to vOICe device

Dec 12, 2014

New findings from researchers in our Department of Psychology could pave the way for better treatments for blind and partially-sighted people using the revolutionary sensory substitution device, 'The vOICe'. ...

Scientists map mouse genome's 'mission control centers'

Nov 19, 2014

When the mouse and human genomes were catalogued more than 10 years ago, an international team of researchers set out to understand and compare the "mission control centers" found throughout the large stretches ...

Recommended for you

Retreat of multiculturalism 'is a myth'

6 hours ago

Perceptions of a decline in multiculturalism as a means of integrating ethnic minorities are unfounded, research led at the University of Strathclyde has found.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.