This article is from the Dana Foundation, which is dedicated to brain research - their monthly newsletter generally features a new article, and this one is from July. Due to their restrictions, I can only offer a taste, so go check it out if you have any interest in what we currently know about the creation of neural stem cells..
Read the whole article.
Carving the Neural Stem Cell ‘Niche’By Jim Schnabel
July 18, 2011
Six years ago, researchers at Stanford connected the bloodstreams of old and young lab mice, and observed that the livers of the old mice quickly recovered a youthful capacity to heal themselves after damage. The researchers concluded that an unknown factor or factors from the young mice’s blood had had a rejuvenating effect on the stem cells and related “progenitor” cells in the livers of the old mice.
Just as dramatically, researchers at University College London reported on June 8 that a molecule called thymosin β4 can induce progenitor cells in the hearts of mice to repair heart-attack damage by producing new cardiomyocytes—mature heart cells.
These and other experiments demonstrate not only the promise of therapies based on stem and progenitor cells, but also the importance of providing these cells with the proper signaling environment, or “niche.” This may be especially true for stem and progenitor cells in the brain.
“Being able to mimic the physiologic environment of neural and other stem cells is going to be crucial in developing therapies,” says Celeste Simon, a cell biologist and stem cell researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.