University of Cambridge Researchers Find Way to Reverse Impact of Aging on Stem Cells in Rat Brains
August 16, 2019
Researchers in the United Kingdom led by Drs. Robin Franklin and Kevin Chalut were able to reverse the negative impacts of aging on stem cells that reside in the brains of rats. Previous research by this team and others found that the brain’s stem cells, which can act as replacement parts for damaged brain tissues, lose some of their ability to repair tissues with age.
Through a series of lab experiments, the team found that aging cells were rejuvenated if the surrounding brain tissue was soft as in younger brains, but that younger cells would lose their ability to fully function as repair cells if surrounded by the stiffness of aging brains. The team devised a way to “trick” aging stem cells into acting as if the environment was young, and the cells regained some repair properties. If confirmed with further study, this research provides important information that could be used to develop strategies for promoting brain tissue repair and restoring function in people with MS and other disorders. The study was funded by the UK MS Society and others.
Read more from the MS Society UK
Read a scientific summary in Nature
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.