The National Institutes of Health has announced that investigators have used MR spectroscopy to detect neural progenitor cells (NPCs). NPCs can develop into neurons and other nervous system cells in the living human brain.
The technique may lead to improved diagnosis and treatment for depression, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors, and other disorders, according to NIH.
In select brain regions, NPCs can persist into adulthood and give rise to new neurons, NIH said. Studies have suggested that the development of neurons from NPCs, called neurogenesis, is disrupted in disorders, such as depression, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and cancer. Until now, NIH said there has been no way to monitor neurogenesis in the living human brain.
“This is the first noninvasive approach to identify neural progenitor cells in the human brain,” said Grigori Enikolopov, PhD, corresponding author of the study, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York City.