Researchers Learn How Stem Cells Create New Neurons


neural_circuitsA team of dedicated scientists at the University of Oregon has made some fascinating discoveries towards understanding how stem cells produce not only new, but varied neurons.

Studying the brains of fruit flies, biologists set out to answer the question of how a single type of stem cell can create a variety of different kinds of neurons. It’s something that’s puzzled the cell biology community for some time now. Instead of making hundreds of copies of the same neural cells, certain groups of stem cells create progenitors that then go on to create a number of different cell subtypes.

The study, which built on research from several years ago, identified comparable cell groups in fruit fly and human brains. These type II neuroblasts were then proven to be responsible for a complex patterning of stem cells. A single one of these stem cells can generate up to 500 different neurons.

Of course, understanding the process by which specific neural cells are created has huge potential within cell biology. Eventually, this will be the gateway to targeting personalized stem cell treatments towards specific brain diseases and disorders. It will just be a matter of programming and directing precise stem cells to create a specific kind of neuron.
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