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† D. Stem Cells Discovered in the Human Brain

Narrator: This is Science Today. Until recently the number of cells in the human brain was thought to be finite, but researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have uncovered convincing evidence that the adult human brain can make new cells. According to Nader Sanai, a resident in neurological surgery, these neural stem cells were initially missed because they looked a lot like a common cell type called an astrocyte.

Sanai: In the past when people saw these cells dividing, they assumed that these cells were just the run of the mill astrocytes, which were dividing in response to a cell injury for example. What they didnít really consider seriously was the possibility they were dividing because they were producing various progeny.

Narrator: But it turns out these cells do have the potential to become neurons and that opens up a lot of therapeutic doors Ė but the key lies in understanding the cues that control their growth and division.

Sanai: Right now the most important concept in the field is probably to understand the basic biology underlying these cells so that we can have a proper approach and method to actually controlling them.

Narrator: For Science Today Iím Larissa Branin