The Nervous System Can Be Regenerated With The Help Of Skin-Related Stem Cells
In a world where Neurogenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide, there is no significant cure that that can effectively help battle such diseases. In India alone, Multiple Sclerosis affects almost 1 million people yearly. As per latest news, Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have discovered a skin-related stem cell that can be used in the regeneration of myelin sheaths, which is an integral part of the human nervous system.
Research performed on mice yielded positive results. Restoration of myelin sheaths in mice led them to believe that stem cells could be a much simpler alternative to using embryonic stem cells. Since the human skin stem cells can be isolated, expanded and used therapeutically, they can possibly improve the chances of functional recovery in case of any injury to the neurons in the nervous system. Dr Thomas J. Hornyak, the lead investigator in the research plans to expand research into the aforementioned area using collected data.
Isolation And Growth Of Melanocyte Stem Cells
Dr Hornyak and his team of researchers implemented a mouse model to identify a specific version of the melanocyte stem cell. As the name suggests, the cells produce melanin (the pigment that determines the colour of skin and hair) and are present in the hair follicles and skin. These cells have a very unique ability – they can divide limitlessly. In fact, this ability is so unique that it is not present in any other cell in the human body. These stem cells can further develop different types of cells, which depends entirely upon the type of signal provided to them.
Dr Hornyak’s Team grew melanocyte stem cells with mice-isolated neurons that could not make myelin. These stem cells acted like glial cells (insulating cells), and eventually formed a myelin sheath around the healthy nerve cells/neurons. Researchers further state that this study holds a lot of potential for those who have very serious neurogenerative diseases. With the development of such a technique, scientists can develop cures for many more nervous disorders which involve the degradation of neurons in the nervous system.