New research into reversing ageing stem cells to a ‘healthier state’ could help unlock treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other brain diseases.
Led by multi-disciplinary team at the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (University of Cambridge), the research looked at how stiffening of the brain – caused by ageing – leads to brain stem cell dysfunction. In studying young and old rat brains the team investigated the role of brain stiffening on oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). These cells are vital for normal brain function and for regenerating myelin, a ‘fatty sheath’ around nerves that become impaired in MS and contribute to its deterioration. By swapping older OPCs onto younger brains the scientists discovered new life can be breathed into them.
Dr Kevin Chalut, who co-led the research, said that “what was especially interesting” was that “when the old brain cells were grown on the soft material, they began to function like young cells – in other words, they were rejuvenated.”