Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found that Hirschsprung disease, one of the most common genetic disorders, is caused by a defect that blocks neural stem cells from forming nerves that control the lower intestine.
Hirschsprung disease occurs in one in 5,000 live births and causes a potentially fatal disorder that prevents the proper transport of food through the gut. The new findings suggest that it might one day be possible to correct the disease by transplanting neural stem cells from a different part of the gut.
Neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) are cells that mature into neurons and supporting neural cells found in the gut. The studies provide important general insight into how stem cells -- the immature cells that can develop into mature nerve and other cells -- are controlled. While the properties of stem cells have been widely studied, relatively little is known about how they are regulated during development.
Jim Keeley | EurekAlert!
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Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
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