Research identifies properties of stem cells that determine cell fate | 9/6/2018 | Staff
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Researchers from the University of California, Irvine have identified intrinsic cell properties that influence the fate of neural stem cells, affecting what type of brain cell they will form: neurons, astrocytes, or oligodendrocytes. This discovery could give scientists a new way to predict or control the fate of stem cells, improving their use in transplantation therapies.

Published today in Stem Cell Reports, the study was led by Lisa A. Flanagan, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at UCI School of Medicine, and revealed that neural stem cells differing in fate potential expressed distinct patterns of sugars on the cell surface. These sugars contribute to neural stem cell membrane electrical properties and ultimately cell fate. "Stem cells hold great promise for treating disease, but it can be difficult to tell what a stem cell will become after it has been transplanted," said Flanagan. "We can transplant the same number of stem cells in one patient as in another, but the outcomes will be significantly different if the transplanted cells in the first patient become neurons and those in the second patient become astrocytes. With this new discovery, we will be able to predict what a neural stem cell will become and possibly direct cell fate, which will greatly enhance the success of stem cell transplant therapies for a wide variety of diseases."

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In research initially published in 2008, Flanagan and colleagues discovered a new way to identify and sort neural stem cells that have different fates by using cell electrical properties....
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