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Adult stem cells shown to develop into all brain cell types

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (April 25, 2003) Researchers at the University of Minnesota provide evidence for the first time that stem cells derived from adult bone marrow and injected into the blastocyst of a mouse can differentiate into all major types of cells found in the brain. The results of the research are published as the lead article in the April 25, 2003 issue of Cell Transplantation. The potential of these adult stem cells, termed multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs), were the subject of research reported in Nature in June 2002. The research reported this week in Cell Transplantation takes a specific look at the ability of MAPCs to develop into cells typically found in the brain.

Adult stem cells were injected into a mouse blastocyst, an early embryonic stage of a mouse. The result is the birth of a chimerical animal an animal that shows the presence of both the cells from the host mouse as well as cells that have developed from the transplanted stem cells. Within the brain, the transplanted stem cells developed into nerve cells that typically conduct electrical impulses, glial cells that provide support to the nerve cells, and myelin-forming cells that enhance the conduction of electrical impulses by nerve cells.

This research takes our findings a step further, said principal investigator Walter C. Low, Ph.D., department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota Medical School.

Researchers looked at the specific phenotypes of the cells in the brain and found stem cell produced nerve cells in regions of the brain that undergo degeneration with Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntingtons disease, ataxia, and Alzheimers disease.

This tells us that these adult stem cells are capable of becoming nerve cells that communicate with other nerve cells within the brain and form proper neural circuits that permit the chimerical mice to function normally, said co-investigator Catherine Verfaillie, M.D., director of the Stem C
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Contact: Sarah Youngerman
612-624-4604
University of Minnesota
25-Apr-2003


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