Neuronal Stem Cells

Our research is aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms responsible for the growth and differentiation of adult olfactory neuronal stem cells. The olfactory system, responsible for our sense of smell, contains a relatively high number of stem cells necessary to ensure the replacement of olfactory neurons lost during normal aging and in response to a variety of environmental insults such as respiratory viral infections.

Our research is focused on isolating these stem cells and developing culture conditions for their replication in vitro and their differentiation into different types of neurons. Such an understanding of stem cell development is a prerequisite to harnessing the potential of these cells to replace those lost in neurodegenerative disorders such as hearing loss, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent results using genetically engineered mice models have demonstrated that neuropeptide Y is a potent modulator of stem cell growth and differentiation, suggesting approaches to the enhanced production of neuronal precursors for future therapeutic treatments.

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