A new type of brain stem cells was discovered by Wellcome Trust / Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute scientists. This study gives a hope to recover to people with brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's: a new type of stem cells can repair damaged brain cells.
The discovery of stem cells by Jameson Thomson from Wisconsin University in 1998 was a tremendous event in medicine. These cells are able to transform into any necessary cell instead of the same damaged one. Free stem cells receive a body signal and are sent to the affected area as real rescuers. Young people have much more stem cells than the elderly. And now we have even more information about the stem cells’ work in our brain.
G2 stem cells discovery
The activity of the stem cells located in the brain, which are “asleep” in their normal state, can promote brain regeneration after trauma or even with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Research in this area was carried out by the staff of the University of Cambridge, who conducted experiments on flies – creatures with 60% of genes associated with brain diseases, coincide with human. In the brain, there are several types of stem cells that are in a dormant state, and one of these kinds, called G2, can significantly accelerate the regeneration of the brain tissue. When G2 cells “wake up”, they trigger the production of neurons and glial cells, allowing them to compensate for their deficiency in brain damage caused by illness or trauma.
What G2 can do
During the study of flies, the researchers discovered a gene that, being active, suppressed the work of stem cells of type G2. In the human brain, most likely, the mechanism of operation of these cells is similar to the mechanism of the muscular brain, so if it is possible to find or synthesize the drug blocking the key gene, the inactive cells will wake up and start the regeneration process. Scientists also noted that it is likely that stem cells of the same type exist not only in the brain, but also in other organs, and exposure to such cells can also contribute to regeneration. Thus, it is possible to create a drug that would replace invasive medical procedures.
Scientists have found the gene that makes these cells become quiescent. Dr Leo Otsuki (University of Cambridge) says that the next step is to identify potential drug-like molecules that block this gene and weak a person’s stem cells. Dr Otsuki also believes there may be similar quiescent stem cells in other organs, and this discovery could help improve or develop new regenerative medicines.
Dr. Bill Johnson (a stem cell physician in Dallas, Texas) explains: “The ability for the body to heal itself means that patients living with traumatic brain injuries or conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease could get a new chance at living.”
Seems like this study will bring a lot of benefits to the medicine and to thousands of patients. We will follow the news.
Cell cycle heterogeneity directs the timing of neural stem cell activation from quiescence – Gurdon.cam.ac.uk
Waking Up Sleeping Stem Cells May Mean New Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease – Innovationsstemcellcenter.com