Cell fate mapping of putative neural stem cells

Disease states such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and spinal cord injury each affect the nervous system in what was once thought to be an irreversible manner. However, recent scientific evidence suggests that damaged areas of the nervous system may have their functions restored by transplantation of neural stem cells or by administration of molecules that coax the body’s neural stem cells to self-repair. To put this knowledge into practice, researchers require a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of stem cell development. Barbara Murdoch was previously funded by MSFHR to identify proteins specific to the surface of neural stem cells so she can study their growth requirements. Building on this, she is now using olfactory epithelium cells to determine the role of the protein nestin in the development of neural stem cells. She is studying which cell types express (produce) nestin and determining their pattern of expression. By understanding these mechanisms, she hopes to contribute key knowledge necessary for effective clinical applications requiring stem cell transplantation, expansion and gene or drug therapies.