Saturday, August 19, 2006

 

New Source of Replacement Brain Cells Found

brain neural progenitor cells (Evolution Research: John Latter / Jorolat)

Scientists have found that a common type of human brain cell can transform into other cell types and reproduce indefinitely - tricks once thought exclusive to stem cells.

The mature human brain cells were extracted from epilepsy patients and coaxed into other types of brain cells in a lab. The human cells also transformed into different types of brain tissue when transplanted into the brains of mice.

The cells (shown above) were maintained for nearly a year without showing signs of aging or of mutations associated with cancer cells. The researchers predict that one cell could give rise to 10 quadrillion brain cells - enough to replace every cell in about 50 million adult brains.

'This is a completely new source of human brain cells that can potentially be used to fight Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and a host of other brain disorders,' said study leader Dennis Steindler of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida.

The study is detailed in an online edition of the journal Development. The article is open access:

"Derivation and large-scale expansion of multipotent astroglial neural progenitors from adult human brain"

Abstract | Full Text (pdf) [neural, progenitor]

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