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Stem Cell

Brain Stem Cells Might Have the Ability to Control Their Own Fate

Controlling The Fate of Brain Stem Cell

The adult stem cells are great because they can be found in many regions in the body. And, as we all know, for a cell to be considered a stem cell, it must have the ability to differentiate into the other cell types found in the body.

Although that is true even for adult stem cells, the problem is that, at least before, adult stem cells are only limited to differentiating into cells where they originate from. An example would be the bone marrow stem cells.

The bone marrow is responsible for the creation of our blood cells and if the stem cells are taken from the bone marrow and transplanted back again, it will only turn into bone marrow cells and nothing else.

This “fact” proves to be a stumbling block for many researchers who are looking to find ways to make adult stem cells cure various ailments; no matter where they came from in the body.

However, new research suggests that adult stem cells, at least one specific stem cell, can actually have control of their differentiation process.

Brain Stem Cells Might Have the Ability to Control Their Own FateI am referring to brain stem cells (also known as Neural Stem Cells).

A study led by Professor Verdon Taylor of the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel states that the neural stem cells have an intrinsic differentiation mechanism that is triggered by a protein known as the Drocha.

 

The Study

As they’ve found out, the enzyme/protein known as Drocha degrades the Messenger Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) for NFIB; the latter of which controls the differentiation of the stem cells.

They’ve arrived at this conclusion by studying the hippocampus of mice. This area of the brain is responsible for the creation of memories. For the hippocampus to perform its duties, it is comprised of three different cell types: The Astrocytes, Neurons, and Oligodendrocytes. They are all under the umbrella known as the Neural Stem Cells.

The latter, Oligodendrocytes, are responsible for creating the myelin sheath- a thin protective layer that protects the other neural cells.

The enzyme Drocha somehow controls the differentiation of the Oligodendrocytes, which in turn, unlocks the adult stem cells ability to differentiate into any other cell type in the body.

Brain Stem Cells Might Have the Ability to Control Their Own FateThis is an interesting finding because we know, as of now, that the only type of stem cells that can do this is the embryonic stem cells. And, as you’ve also known by now, the use of it is controversial due to where it came from.

With this new study, we might be able to finally tap the adult stem cells full potential for complete differentiation, or the ability of the said cells to differentiate into other cell types in the body, regardless of the site of its origin.

Professor Taylor and his team are still doing further research to prove this claim to be true and if it is, then we might have found a way to unlock the adult stem cells ability for use in research and therapy.