Daily Archives: January 30, 2011
Among stem cell biologists there are few better-known proteins than nestin, whose very presence in an immature cell identifies it as a “stem cell,” such as a neural stem cell. As helpful as this is to researchers, until now no one knew which purpose nestin serves in a cell.
In a study published in the Jan. 30, 2011, advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, Salk Institute of Biological Studies investigators led by Kuo-Fen Lee, PhD., show that nestin has reason for being in a completely different cell type–muscle tissue. There, it regulates formation of the so-called neuromuscular junction, the contact point between muscle cells and “their” motor neurons.
Researchers say the anti-cancer drug Taxol, normally used to treat breast cancer, might also hold promise as a way to help people recover from crippling spinal cord injuries.
Researchers at Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany report that Taxol improves movement and function in rats with spine injuries, by promoting nerve regeneration. They say the drug appears to eliminate the physical obstacles that normally prevent injured nerve cells from regrowing axons.