Researchers Discover Stem Cell "Guide" That May Be Key For Targeting Neural Stem Cell Treatments

UC Irvine School of Medicine researchers have discovered how new neurons born from endogenous neural stem cells are sent to regions of the brain where they can replace old and dying cells, a finding that suggests how stem cell therapies can be specifically targeted to brain regions affected by neurodegenerative diseases or by stroke. Associate Professor Qun-Yong Zhou and graduate student Kwan L. Ng in the UCI Department of Pharmacology have identified a protein that guides these new neurons to a particular brain region. The protein, a small peptide called prokineticin 2 (PK2), was found to play a key regulatory role for the proper functional integration of these new neurons in the brain. A few years ago, PK2 was shown by the same research group to be an important regulator of circadian rhythms. The current study appears in the June 24 issue of the journal Science.

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