Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

For first time, brain cells generated in a dish

14.06.2005


Discovery pinpoints the true ’stem cell’



Regenerative medicine scientists at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute have created a system in rodent models that for the first time duplicates neurogenesis -- the process of generating new brain cells -- in a dish.

Writing in today’s (June 13) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe a cell culture method that holds the promise of producing a limitless supply of a person’s own brain cells to potentially heal disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy.


"It’s like an assembly line to manufacture and increase the number of brain cells," said Bjorn Scheffler, M.D., a neuroscientist with UF’s College of Medicine. "We can basically take these cells and freeze them until we need them. Then we thaw them, begin a cell-generating process, and produce a ton of new neurons."

If the discovery can translate to human applications, it will enhance efforts aimed at finding ways to use large numbers of a person’s own cells to restore damaged brain function, partially because the technique produces cells in far greater amounts than the body can on its own.

In addition, the discovery pinpoints the cell that is truly what people refer to when they say "stem cell." Although the term is used frequently to describe immature cells that are the building blocks of bones, skin, flesh and organs, the actual stem cell as it exists in the brain has been enigmatic, according to Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., executive director of the McKnight Brain Institute and senior author of the paper. Its general location was known, but it was an obscure species in a sea of cell types.

"We’ve isolated for the first time what appears to be the true candidate stem cell," said Steindler, a neuroscientist and member of UF’s Program of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "There have been other candidates, but in this case we used a special microscope that allows us to watch living cells over long periods of time through a method called live-cell microscopy, so we’ve actually witnessed the stem cell give rise to new neurons. Possibly a different method may come up to identify the mother of all stem cells, but we’re confident this is it."

During experiments, scientists collected cells from mice and used chemicals to induce them to differentiate. During the process, they snapped images of the cells every five minutes for up to 30 hours and compiled the images into movies. Traditional ways to attempt neurogenesis have been unable to so closely duplicate the natural process. They also haven’t allowed scientists to monitor the entire sequence of cell development from primitive states to functional neurons and expose the electrophysiological properties of the cells.

A little more than a decade ago, scientists came to realize that the brain continues to produce small amounts of new cells even in adulthood, overturning the belief that people are born with a fixed amount of brain cells that must last them throughout their lives.

In people, stem cells develop naturally into full-fledged brain cells as they travel through a neural pathway that begins deep within the brain in a region called the subventricular zone. The primitive cells mature along the way, finishing as neurons in a spot called the olfactory bulb.

In the laboratory cultures, the cells still move about, but the pathway is no longer important, showing that neurogenesis does not necessarily require the environmental cues of the host brain.

The natural development of stem cells in the brain is very similar to the lifelong production of blood cells in the human body called hematopoiesis, with "poiesis" derived from the Greek word meaning "to make."

Scientists in Steindler’s lab noticed the similarities between primitive cell development in blood and in the brain in the late 1990s, calling the process "neuropoiesis."

"The exciting part is we are actually using methods that researchers involved with hematopoiesis used," Scheffler said. "Those researchers took primitive cells, put them in a dish and watched them perform. From that, they learned vital information for clinical applications such as bone marrow transplants. Now we have a tool to do exactly the same thing."

By watching the cells perform, scientists can make judgments and influence the capacity of the cells to generate specific neurons.

"As far as regenerating parts of the brain that have degenerated, such as in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and others of that nature, the ability to regenerate the needed cell type and placing it in the correct spot would have major impact," said Dr. Eric Holland, a neurosurgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York who specializes in the treatment of brain tumors, but who is not connected to the research. "In terms of tumors, it’s known that stem-like cells have characteristics much like cancer cells. Knowing what makes these cells tick may help by furthering our knowledge of the biology of the tumor."

John Pastor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.health.ufl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>