The discovery of a novel marker for adult human neural stem cell
It is a good place to start for those interested in neuroscience, aging/longevity or aging.
The hippocampus is the mammalian centre for memory and learning. It has an amazing capacity to produce new neurons all through life. The neural stem cells are responsible for the production of new neurons. They are also crucial in forming neural networks that are required for memory and learning, as well as mood control. The number of NSCs decreases with age, resulting in decreased neurogenesis, cognitive decline and anxiety and depression. It is therefore crucial to identify the molecular machinery that preserves NSCs if we want to use neurogenesis as a tool to reverse or stop hippocampal age related pathology.
The lack of NSCs markers that are suitable for in vivo and advanced imaging is a major obstacle to exploring this fundamental process in the brain. Researchers led by Dr. Mirjana Mlatic-Savatic of Baylor College of Medicine, investigator at the Jan & Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute of Texas Children’s Hospital and Dr. Louis Manganas of Stony Brook University decided to approach this problem in an unusual way. They thought that if they found proteins on the surface NSCs then they could make agents that could \”see\” the NSCs within the human brain.
The ultimate goal of research is to maintain neurogenesis in old age at the same level it was in young brains. This will prevent cognitive decline and reduce the tendency to mood disorders like depression. We must first better understand the elusive yet fundamental human process. We do not yet have the technology to study the process in living humans, and the only information we have is from postmortem brain analyses. We cannot create tools to detect the process in humans because NSC markers exist within cells, and are not reachable for in-vivo visualization,\” Maletic Savatic explained. In collaboration with colleagues in New York and Spain we conducted this study in order to identify surface markers. We then developed tools, such as ligands to PET, to visualize them in real-time using advanced in vivo brain images.