Molecular dissection of neural stem cells

Damage to the central nervous system caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and spinal cord injuries was once considered irreversible. But recent scientific advances suggest neural stem cells may hold the key to restoring the damaged area of the brain, giving hope to people suffering from these devastating conditions. Scientists have discovered that transplanted neural stem cells have the ability to reproduce themselves and become mature cells capable of performing nervous system functions. However, isolating these cells has proven difficult since researchers have yet to find markers that identify neural stem cells. Barbara Murdoch is working to identify proteins specific to the surface of neural stem cells so she can study their growth requirements. By solving this puzzle, scientists will be able to more effectively use neural stem cells for therapies that promote nervous system recovery.