A special gene tells stem cells where to go and what to do when they get there.
An previously unknown function that regulates how stem cells produce different types of cells in different parts of the nervous system has been discovered by Stefan Thor, professor of Developmental Biology, and postgrads Daniel Karlsson and Magnus Baumgardt, at Linköping University in Sweden.
Research found that Hox genes, which are in various parts of the body, provide a kind of GPS regional identity system. Hox genes also influence both stem cell division and the type of nerve cells that are created.
"We constantly find new regulating mechanisms, and it is probably more difficult than previously thought to routinely use stem cells in treating diseases and repairing organs, especially in the nervous system," said Thor.