Adult stem cells in the brains of mice possess a broader differentiation potential than previously thought and may be capable of developing into other cell types including those involved in the formation of new blood vessels, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a part of the National Institutes of Health. The finding could help resolve a critical question about these promising, but still mystifying cells. The report by Fred H. Gage, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Kumamoto University in Japan, appears in the July 15, 2004, issue of Nature.
Adult stem cells in the brain were proposed to be restricted to the generation of neurons and cells, such as glial cells, that support neuron function. Experiments over the past several years have raised the possibility that stem cells from the brain may be able to give rise to additional cell types, a phenomenon known as plasticity. But recent findings have challenged this theory, suggesting that many of these stem cells merely merge or "fuse" with an existing cell within a tissue forming a hybrid that takes on the pre-existing cell’s functions.
"Resolving this issue is important because fused cells may have a different therapeutic potential than stem cells that differentiate into new cells, says Bradley C. Wise, Ph.D., of the NIA’s Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program. "While this new finding doesn’t fully answer this vital question, it keeps open the possibility that adult stem cells from different organs one day may be harnessed to help prevent and treat neurological disorders."
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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