Keeping Brain Stem Cells Healthy While Aging
Stem cells in the subventricular area and hippocampus of the human brain can repair or replace brain cells damaged by traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, as people age the amount and activity of their brain stem cells can dwindle. Can anything be done to keep a robust supply of neural stem cells while we age? The answer appears to be yes.
Researchers led by Dr. Robert K. Yu at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University have discovered that the key ingredient in keeping stem cell populations high in the mouse brain is a ganglioside (a brain fat) attached to a sugar called lipid ganglioside GD3. In trials with mice they learned that this molecule has a remarkable capacity to boost the ability of brain stem cells to self-renew. In an earlier experiment in 2010 Dr. Simonetta Sipione at the University of Alberta, Canada, injected lipid ganglioside into the brains of mice with Huntington’s Disease and their symptoms improved.
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