On Friday, researchers from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) published a study that opens new doors for regenerative therapy. The scientists were able to reactivate the stem cells of diseased brain areas in old mice.
Our organs are composed of cells that all originated from stem cells, which divide and develop specific tissue cells, such as in the brain or lungs. Over time, however, the stem cells of living organisms lose their capacity to multiply and form new cells and enter into a permanent state of quiescence.
Dr. Srikanth Ravichandran of the LCSB's Computational Biology Group used a computational model to aid a novel approach to stem cell research: "Our model can determine which proteins are responsible for the functional state of a given stem cell in its niche—meaning whether it will divide or remain in a state of quiescence. Our model relies on the information about which genes are being transcribed. Modern cell biology technologies enable profiling of gene expression at single cell resolution."
The LCSB research team led by Prof. Antonio del Sol used the model to identify a molecule called sFRP5 as the cause for neuronal stem cell inactivity in old mice. With help from the DFKZ, the researchers confirmed the computer model’s theory. “With the deactivation of sFRP5, the cells undergo a kind of rejuvenation," del Sol stated. "As a result, the ratio of active to dormant stem cells in the brain of old mice becomes almost as favourable as in young animals."
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