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June 25, 2006

Stem Cell Treatment Allowing Brain To 'Heal Itself' May Help Stroke Victims

Topics: Medicine

[Image: Neural progenitors (green) were efficiently generated from embryonic stem cells (red) through activation of the Notch pathway.]

Cell fate is determined in a wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates by proteins called Notch receptors, which straddle the membrane of cells and transmit signals through local cell interactions. Depending on the context, Notch signaling can inhibit the spread of differentiation among adjacent cells or prompt them to adopt similar fates. Notch signaling also induces embryonic stem cells to make the initial commitment to a nervous system fate.

Now scientists are using the mechanism of Notch signaling to cause a "cascade" effect which creats new brain cells after the stroke. The treatment also improves the ability of existing cells to survive the lack of oxygen.

The results are from a study in rats, and suggest a general model of stem cell expansion that applies to many precursor cells of clinical interest, and hopefully may lead to strategies that promote regenerative responses through the activation of endogenous cells.

Posted by Richard at June 25, 2006 10:09 PM

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