Investigators from Stony Brook University Medical Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are reporting in the latest issue of Science a methodology to detect stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) in the live human brain. Such research might have significant implications for diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of neurological disorders:
By using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), the investigative team found a way to detect a biomarker of NPCs that is a reference for monitoring neurogenesis. Until now, scientists could not monitor neurogenesis in the human brain. Research indicates that in certain regions of the human brain, NPCs are produced into adulthood and thus may give rise to new neurons. The team studied NPCs in one of those regions, thought to be a center for learning and memory.
“Our findings open the possibility of investigating the role of NPCs and neurogenesis in a wide variety of human brain disorders,” says Dr. Maletic-Savatic, Lead Investigator and Assistant Professor of Neurology, who points out that their method is the first non-invasive approach to identify NPCs in the human brain. “We are using the method as a protocol to study changes that occur in neurological diseases.”
Dr. Maletic-Savatic cited collaborative work at Stony Brook with Lauren Krupp, M.D., Professor of Neurology and a specialist in multiple sclerosis (MS), as an example of potential clinical applications to the research team’s discovery of the new NPC imaging method. Dr. Maletic-Savatic is imaging NPC recruitment in brain regions of MS patients.
“This method has immense clinical applications for treating MS,” says Dr. Krupp. “Dr. Maletic-Savatic’s approach is groundbreaking in that it is fundamental to the prospect of stem cell therapy for this debilitating disease.”