New stem cell found in the brain

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a new stem cell in the adult brain. These cells can proliferate and form several different cell types - most importantly, they can form new brain cells. Scientists hope to take advantage of the finding to develop methods to heal and repair disease and injury in the brain.

Analyzing brain tissue from biopsies, the researchers for the first time found stem cells located around small blood vessels in the brain. The cell's specific function is still unclear, but its plastic properties suggest great potential.

"A similar cell type has been identified in several other organs where it can promote regeneration of muscle, bone, cartilage and adipose tissue," said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Jay Van Andel Endowed Chair in Parkinson's Research at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), Head of the Neuronal Survival Unit at Lund University and senior author of the study.

In other organs, researchers have shown clear evidence that these types of cells contribute to repair and wound healing. Scientists suggest that the curative properties may also apply to the brain. The next step is to try to control and enhance stem cell self-healing properties with the aim of carrying out targeted therapies to a specific area of the brain.

"Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and that these cells are very versatile," said Gesine Paul-Visse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Lund University and the study's primary author. "Most interesting is their ability to form , 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."

The study, published in the journal , is of interest to a broad spectrum of brain research. Future possible therapeutic targets range from to stroke.

"We hope that our findings may lead to a new and better understanding of the brain's own repair mechanisms," said Dr. Paul-Visse. "Ultimately the goal is to strengthen these mechanisms and develop new treatments that can repair the diseased brain."

More information: PLoS ONE 7(4): e35577. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035577

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New genetic technique converts skin cells into brain cells

Jun 09, 2011

A research breakthrough has proven that it is possible to reprogram mature cells from human skin directly into brain cells, without passing through the stem cell stage. The unexpectedly simple technique involves activating ...

Naturally produced protein could boost brain repair

Jan 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) have discovered that a protein produced by blood vessels in the brain could be used to help the brain repair itself after injury or disease.

Newly discovered heart stem cells make muscle and bone

Dec 01, 2011

Researchers have identified a new and relatively abundant pool of stem cells in the heart. The findings in the December issue of Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, show that these heart cells have the capacity for lo ...

Recommended for you

Gamers helping in Ebola research

16 hours ago

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus.

Carcinogenic role of a protein in liver decoded

19 hours ago

The human protein EGFR controls cell growth. It has mutated in case of many cancer cells or exists in excessive numbers. For this reason it serves as a point of attack for target-oriented therapies. A study ...

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

Aug 31, 2014

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

User comments