A new study led by Dr. Daniel Geschwind, assistant professor of neurology at UCLA, and Dr. Harley Kornblum, assistant professor of pharmacology and pediatrics at UCLA, increases our understanding of how to pinpoint the elusive and highly valuable stem cells in the human body.
Stem cells, which can develop into any type of cell, hold tremendous promise for treating a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. Neural stem cells can develop into any type of nervous system tissue, and in some cases, can develop into non-neural tissues.
"Our study represents a very basic but important initial step toward the eventual goal of improving treatments for spinal cord injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's and other conditions where neural transplantation may be an option to consider," said Geschwind, who directs the university's neurogenetics program. Their research appears in the February issue of the journal Neuron.
Through a sophisticated laboratory analysis, the researchers identified gene expression patterns that are greatly increased in stem cells. In the process, they identified 19 previously unknown genes. This knowledge at the genetic level will serve as a resource for scientists who are trying to purify and grow such cells in hopes of achieving medical breakthroughs.
Geschwind, who completed his internship, residency and post-doctoral work at the UCLA School of Medicine, received the Frontiers of Science Award from UCLA in 1998. Other honors include the McDonnell-Pew Foundation Award in Cognitive Neuroscience in 1995-98.
Kornblum, a pediatric neurologist, also completed clinical and postdoctoral training at UCLA and works in the field of neural stem cells and neural repair. Kornblum's honors include the PRIME/Howard Hughes Award, Department of Pediatrics, UCLA, in 1996, 2000 and 2001.
The study in Neuron is entitled "A Genetic Analysis of Neural Progenitor Differentiation," and was supported by the Shapiro Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.
Materials provided by University Of California, Los Angeles. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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