Scientists from the University of Guelph, in Canada, discovered a new type of stem cells in geckos which can help the lizards produce new brain cells and regenerate their brains after injuries. This discovery could help researchers develop new ways to regenerate human brain cells damaged or lost due to accidents or illnesses.
“The brain is a complex organ, and there are so few good treatments for brain injury, so this is a very exciting area of research. The findings indicate that gecko brains are constantly renewing brain cells, something that humans are notoriously bad at doing,” explained Professor Matthew Vickaryous from the Department of Biomedical Sciences within the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).
This recent research, issued in the Scientific Reports journal, is the first in the world to unveil the formation of new neurons and the stem cells involvement in brain regeneration in geckos lizards.
New brain cells production and brain regeneration after injuries observed in geckos lizards
“Most regeneration research has looked at zebrafish or salamanders. Our work uses lizards, which are more closely related to mammals than either fish or amphibians,” asserted Rebecca McDonald, a master’s student at the University of Guelph and the study’s leading author.
The scientists injected geckos with a chemical label that binds to the DNA of the newly generated cells. The researchers noticed stem cells that frequently make new brain cells in the medial cortex, an area of the brain that’s responsible for the behavior and social cognition.
“The next step in this area of research is to determine why some species, like geckos, can replace brain cells while other species, like humans, cannot,” explained Rebecca McDonald.
According to the researchers, the next step of the research would be to see if the new brain cells generation and brain regeneration features in geckos lizards could be used in new therapies for brain injuries in humans.