April 21, 2012
New Stem Cell Discovered In The Brain
Researchers have discovered a new stem cell in the adult brain -- a discovery which could lead to new treatments for strokes and neurodegenerative conditions.
The discovery was made by researchers at Lund University in Sweden, who found the stem cells located around small blood vessels in the brain while analyzing brain tissues obtained from biopsies.
These cells can proliferate and form several different cell types, including new brain cells, and while their exact function is unclear at this point, experts hope they can lead to the discovery of new methods in order to heal and repair diseases and injuries of the brain.
"A similar cell type has been identified in several other organs where it can promote regeneration of muscle, bone, cartilage and adipose tissue," Dr, Patrik Brundin, senior author of the study, Head of the Neuronal Survival Unit at Lund University, and Jay Van Andel Endowed Chair in Parkinson's Research at Van Andel Institute (VAI), said in a press release on Thursday.
According to Sue Thoms of MLive.com, stem cells have been proven capable of healing and repairing injuries in other organs, and if Brundin and his colleagues hope to achieve similar results with the stem cells found in the brain, they will first have to "try to control and enhance the cells´ self-healing properties." The goal, they say, will be to carry out therapies targeted to a specific location within the brain itself.
"Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and that these cells are very versatile," said Dr. Gesine Paul-Visse, primary author of the study, which has been published in the journal PLoS ONE, and an associate professor of neuroscience at Lund University.
"Most interesting is their ability to form neuronal cells, but they can also be developed for other cell types. The results contribute to better understanding of how brain cell plasticity works and opens up new opportunities to exploit these very features," Paul-Visse added. "We hope that our findings may lead to a new and better understanding of the brain's own repair mechanisms. Ultimately the goal is to strengthen these mechanisms and develop new treatments that can repair the diseased brain."