Mount Sinai researchers have discovered that microglia, the immune cells that reside in the brain, have a unique origin and are formed shortly after conception.
Microglia are thought to play an important role in the development of many brain diseases, and that defective microglia could lead to the release of inflammatory molecules, which could participate in the development of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimers.
"This really is a startling discovery," said Miriam Merad, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the study. "We’ve shown that the precursor cells develop into microglia only during a short period after conception. Now that we know that microglia originate in early embryos, theoretically we should be able to generate microglia from embryonic stem cells to treat brain diseases caused by defective microglia. This is a very good example of why scientists need to be able to conduct research with embryonic stem cells."
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