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. The 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.