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New compound promotes the proliferation of neural stem cells in culture

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Researchers of the University of Cadiz have identified a substance capable of promoting the proliferation of neural precursor or neural stem cells in in vitro culture. This discovery opens the way to the creation of drugs for treating lesions of the central nervous system, by regeneration processes with neural stem cells.


Neural precursors or stem cells are cells that have been isolated from the neural tissue, that have the capacity of self-replicating. Unfortunately, their capacity for differentiation is limited, since they can only differentiate themselves into one of the three subtypes of neural cells, among which are the neurons.

Up to now, neural precursors have been detected with this capacity for self- replication and proliferation in those specific brain regions known to be neurogenic. Thus, following a lesion in such a region, these precursors are stimulated and give rise to neuroblasts, which then migrate to the lesioned zone. There they undergo the differentiation process that results in the formation of new neurons.

This “neurogenic response” to the lesion suggests that this mechanism of formation of new neurons may operate as an efficacious procedure for the repair of small lesions. However, more serious lesions involving a greater neuronal loss cannot be resolved by this mechanism. Therefore more effective treatments need to be applied to increase significantly this “neurogenic response”.

It has also been observed that this phenomenon, by which the stem cells present in the neurogenic regions of the brain generally differentiate themselves into mature neurons, does not take place in the non-neurogenic regions of the brain. In these regions, what happens is that this differentiation is mostly into glial cells.

Researchers of the University of Cadiz have identified a compound that promotes the proliferation of cellular cultures of neural precursors. When applied in the lesioned brain, it encourages the proliferation of neural precursors that subsequently differentiate into neurons with the potential to repair damaged tissue.

The inhibition of neurogenesis outside the naturally neurogenic regions of the brain is overcome by this compound, which promotes the regeneration of new neurons in these regions from neural precursors, whether these are the body's own or transplanted cells.


- This opens the way to focused research to find possible drugs that might be employed in the treatment of lesions or diseases, whose mechanism of action leads to regeneration of the tissue of the central nervous system.

- It promotes the proliferation of neural precursor or stem cells whose subsequent differentiation gives rise to the formation of mature and functional neurons.

- The limitations to the formation of neurons in the non-neurogenic of the brain can be overcome.

- In vitro neuronal cultures are facilitated.


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