Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Create Molecule That Nudges Nerve Stem Cells to Mature

16.06.2008
Inspired by a chance discovery during another experiment, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have created a small molecule that stimulates nerve stem cells to begin maturing into nerve cells in culture.

This finding might someday allow a person’s own nerve stem cells to be grown outside the body, stimulated into maturity, and then re-implanted as working nerve cells to treat various diseases, the researchers said.

“This provides a critical starting point for neuro-regenerative medicine and brain cancer chemotherapy,” said Dr. Jenny Hsieh, assistant professor of molecular biology and senior author of the paper, which appears online today and in the June 17 issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

The creation of the molecule allowed the researchers to uncover some of the biochemical steps that happen as nerve cells mature. It also showed that large-scale screening of compounds can provide starting points for developing drugs to treat disorders such as Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury or cancer.

... more about:
»Hsieh »Isx-9 »Molecule »Nerve

The scientists began this project as a result of a separate study in which they were screening 147,000 compounds to see which could stimulate stem cells cultivated from rodent embryos to become heart cells. Unexpectedly, five molecules stimulated the cells to transform into forms resembling nerve cells. The researchers then created a variation of these molecules, a new compound called Isx-9 (for isoxazole-9). Isx-9 was easier to use than its initially discovered relatives because it worked at a much lower concentration and also dissolved more easily in water.

“It was completely serendipitous that we uncovered this neurogenic [nerve-creating] small molecule,” Dr. Hsieh said. “I think it’s one of the most powerful neurogenic small molecules on the planet. In theory, this molecule could provoke full maturation, to the point that the new nerve cells could fire, generating the electrical signals needed for full functioning.”

Nerve stem cells live in scattered groups in various areas of the brain. They are capable of becoming several different types of cells, not all of which are nerve cells.

In the study, rodent nerve stem cells from an area of the brain called the hippocampus were cultured with Isx-9. They clustered together and developed spiky appendages called neurites, which typically happens when nerve cells are grown in culture.

Isx-9 also prevented the stem cells from developing into non-nerve cells and was more potent than other neurogenic substances in stimulating nerve-cell development. The molecule generated two to three times more nerve cells than other commonly used compounds.

Neuroscientists believed for decades that the adult mammalian brain could not grow new nerve cells. Instead, they thought, learning and memory were strictly a matter of the brain making new connections between existing cells.

It is now known, however, that the brain constantly creates new nerve cells. In the hippocampus, which is involved with learning and memory, stem cells mature into full-blown nerve cells at a rate of thousands a day, Dr. Hsieh said.

Scientists know that when a mature nerve cell sends a chemical signal called a neurotransmitter to a stem cell, the immature cell begins to mature, but they don’t know what biochemical pathways or genes are involved, Dr. Hsieh said.

“The big gap in our knowledge is how to control these stem cells,” she said.

Isx-9 appeared to act like a neurotransmitter-like signal on the nerve stem cells, the researchers found. By culturing the stem cells with the compound, the scientists identified a possible biochemical pathway by which stem cells begin to become nerve cells.

The researchers next plan to test Isx-9 on a large number of different combinations of RNA, the chemical cousin of DNA, to see on which genes the compound might be working. They have also applied for a patent on Isx-9 and its relatives.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Jay Schneider, assistant professor of internal medicine; Dr. Zhengliang Gao, postdoctoral researcher in molecular biology; Dr. Shijie Li, postdoctoral researcher in molecular genetics; Midhat Farooqi, a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program; Dr. Tie-Shan Tang, instructor of physiology; Dr. Ilya Bezprozvanny, professor of physiology; and Dr. Douglas Frantz, assistant professor of biochemistry.

The work was supported by the Haberecht Wild-Hare Idea Program, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Welch Foundation and the UT Southwestern President’s Research Council.

Dr. Jenny Hsieh -- http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,75845,00.html

Aline McKenzie | newswise
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

Further reports about: Hsieh Isx-9 Molecule Nerve

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>