Stem cells

The converging point of neurodegenerative diseases is marked by the loss of neurons. These are very specialized units that come in different flavours, making up ~ 209 different neuronal types and subtypes. In the adult brain there are two regions harbouring neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) that continuously generate new neurons, the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (DG) and the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles (SVZ). Newborn neurons of the hippocampus are involved in learning and memory. Stem cells in the SVZ generate interneurons involved in fine tuning of olfaction. In the diseased brain, NPCs can be activated to repair the brain. Overt activation of these cells can result in tumour formation. To envisage ways to repair the CNS or block tumor formation the lab studies cell proliferation, and differentiation in the developing and healthy, tumorigenic, and regenerating adult CNS of the mouse as a model system. Additional validation of results is carried out in tissue from cancer patients. Functional evidence for proliferation/differentiation/integration, repair of the diseased brain or tumour formation is gained by studies of learning and memory tasks, disease animal models of global and focal brain ischemia and Parkinsons’ Disease, or xenotransplants, respectively.

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