Scientists have identified specific regions in the core of the brain that retain stem cells till adulthood and continue to produce new neurons

In a discovery that could help addressing neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzeimer’s, American scientists have identified a gene that instructs embryonic stem cells in the brain when to stop producing nerve cells called neurons.

According to researchers from North Carolina State University, the research is a significant advance in understanding the development of the nervous system, which is essential to addressing conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

The bulk of neuron production in the central nervous system takes place before birth, and comes to a halt by birth.

But scientists have identified specific regions in the core of the brain that retain stem cells till adulthood and continue to produce new neurons.

The researchers, investigating the sub-ventricular zone, one of the regions that retains stem cells, have identified a gene called FoxJ1 that acts as a switch -- transforming some embryonic stem cells into adult cells that can no longer produce new neurons, journal Development said.

“This research helps us understand brain development itself, which is key to identifying novel approaches for treatment of many neurological disorders,” said senior author Dr Troy Ghashghaei.

RELATED NEWS

US approves use of human embryonic stem cellsDecember 3, 2009

More In: Science | Sci-Tech