The overall objective of the National Human Neural Stem Cell Resource (SCR) is to drive national research in the field of neural stem cells by providing a reliable resource for these cells to researchers nationwide.
Neural stem cells in the Resource are acquired from several central nervous system sources and represent controls and genetic mutations. This is of utmost importance as the field of neural stem cells has applicability to such diverse areas as
- increasing our understanding of the basic mechanisms involved in the development of the nervous system from a few cells to the extremely complex final product that is the human brain;
- increasing our understanding of the effects of genetic disease on the structure and function of the nervous system;
- providing tools by which new drugs that can be used to treat diseases of the nervous system can be designed; and
- providing a cell population that could potentially be used to treat such nervous system diseases as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizure disorders, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and others that traditionally have been thought to be untreatable to any significant extent.
NHNSCR provides to the research community neural stem cells harvested from the post-natal, post-mortem, human brain.
The specific aims of NHNSCR comprise five distinct areas:
- to continue and expand an existing collaboration with multiple children’s and university hospitals throughout Southern California and the Western United States to facilitate recruitment of potential tissue donors;
- to prepare, using a novel methodology designed by the PI and his collaborators, samples of both brain tissue and proliferative neural stem cells derived from multiple brain areas – these samples will be cryopreserved to provide a long-term resource;
- to improve tissue transport, cell isolation and culture strategies for banking with an emphasis on identifying differences in quantity or quality of stem cells isolated from different regions of the brain; and
- to recruit investigators as requestors of the specimens by presenting the resource at national neuroscience, cell biology, neurology, and genetics meetings and on a comprehensive web site as well as by actively participating with investigators in experimental designs aimed at utilizing the samples in the resource; and
- to train scientists in the proper culture of stem cells.
The Resource encourages researchers to study these cells as potential transplantable tissue for the repair of injury such as that sustained during traumatic brain injury or stroke, for the repair of pathological processes such as those seen in the neurogenetic diseases Hurler’s disease or Leigh’s disease, or for repair of neurodegenerative processes such those seen in Parkinson’s or Alzheimer Diseases.
In addition, the cells should be used for the detailed study of mechanisms of neural differentiation and transdifferentiation and the genetic and environmental signals that direct the specialization of the cells into particular cell types.