Article from Stem Cell blog

Betacellulin or BTC is a protein that was recently found to help boost brain regeneration in mice by stimulating the organ’s stem cells in order to multiply and form new nerve tissue. The findings that were released in the journal PNAS, boldly claim that the BTC protein can enhance current and future regenerative therapies for dozens of conditions including strokes, traumatic brain injury and dementia.

Although the majority of nerve cells  in the human brain are first formed within the womb & also soon after birth.  The new brain enhancing neurons will then continue to be generated throughout an adults life. The neural stem cells tend to be housed inside the two small ‘niches’ inside the brain and will supply the neurons to the brains olfactory bulb. The olfactory bilb is responsible for the sense of smell, and the hippocampus, is involved in forming memories and learning abilities.

According to the Stem Cell Blog The niches produce a range of signals that control how fast the originate cells divide and also the type of cell these people become. Stem cells in these areas usually produce neurons, however in brain injury cases such as strokes they tend to produce more so-called glial cells, leading to the development of scar tissue.

Dr Robin Badge lead researcher from the National Institute for Medical Research, said:

“The originate cell niches within the brain are not completely understood, but it appears that many factors act in concert to control the fate from the stem cells. We believe these factors are finely balanced to manage precisely the numbers of new neurons that are made to match demand in a number of normal circumstances.

“In trauma or disease, the actual stem cells possibly can’t cope with the increased demand, or they prioritise harm control at the expense of long-term repair. We hope that our new findings can add to the arsenal associated with exciting approaches coming out of stem cell biology that might eventually result in better treatments for damaged brains.”

The researchers analyzed the effects of BTC, that is produced within blood vessels that originate cell niches, around the rate of neuron development in mice. The reserachers found that the BTC proteins signal the stem cells and into dividing the tissues known as neuroblasts thus triggering their proliferation and regeneration.

When extra Betacellulin protein was given to the rodents, the researchers noticed a significant increase in both neuroblasts and  stem cells in the brains, leading to the formation of many new neurons. In start contrast to the group of mice that were given the BTC blocking antibody. The blockers suppressed the the production of new neurons in the rat brains.

Since the BTC protein leads to the production of new brain cell neurons instead of the glial cells, the BTC proteins is believed to eventually improve the overall effectiveness of the regenerative medical treatments that are aimed directly at helping repair the damage to our brains. Restorative healing using stem cells has the profound possibility to unlock new treatments for human illnesses that currently have no effective cures today.

The research is a critical step towards the goal of eventually moving well beyond simply replacing tissues and organs to the eventual exploitation of the intrinsic natural repair and regenerative potential of the human body. The work is still far from the clinical application as further experiments are necessary to explain the actions of the BTC protein in our brains.