This discovery allows researchers to monitor neurogenesis, the development of nerve tissues. The finding may also prove to be monumental in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other disorders of the central nervous system where neurogenesis is disrupted. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, M.D., Ph.D, and co-investigators from Stony Brook University Medical Center are the first in the world to detect NPCs in this way. By using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), the investigative team found a way to detect a biomarker of NPCs that is a reference for monitoring neurogenesis. This could be useful to quantify and characterize neurogenesis for many patients – with traumatic brain injuries, stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer, as some scientists believe brain tumors are associated with abnormal proliferation of NPCs.

Scientists have been able to identify NPCs in animals by way of various imaging techniques. But those techniques require a labelling of cells with radioactive agents or other agents or drugs. Such methods are not safe in humans. By identifying the biomarker in NPCs, the researchers could image NPCs without the use of agents.

A crucial component to the investigative procedure is the development of a method for processing of the MRS data. This method allowed to detect NPCs in vivo and in low concentrations, enabling the researchers to separate the biomarker from other signals in the brain in the MRS data.

To date, the researchers have analysed the NPC biomarker in the rodent brain and hippocampus of live humans. In their investigations in humans, the researchers observed major differences in the concentrations of the biomarker between two regions, the hippocampus and cortex. They also used MRS to image the brains of people at various ages. They found that the biomarker decreased with age.

MEDICA.de; Source: Stony Brook University