News of the WeekNeurobiology

New Leads to Brain Neuron Regeneration

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1018-1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1018b

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Two sets of findings published this week are raising hopes that contrary to neurobiologists' belief, it may be possible for neurons in the adult brain to regenerate. In one, two research teams independently isolated what appear to be the first human cells that can differentiate into all the cell types found in the brain--so-called neural stem cells; in the other an international team found a small area of the human brain that produces new neurons into old age. Both neural stem cells and the birth of neurons in adult brains have been seen in other mammals, but identifying them in humans was a demonstration that could be critical to future therapies for diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.