Neural stem cells, which exist in various regions of the CNS throughout the mammalian lifespan, can be expanded and induced to differentiate into neurons and glia in vitro and in vivo. Because of these characteristics, there has been increasing interest in the identification and characterization of neural stem cells and neural progenitor cells both for basic developmental biology studies and for therapeutic applications to the damaged brain. Transplantation of neural stem cells or their derivatives into a host brain and the proliferation and differentiation of endogenous stem cells by pharmacological manipulations are potential treatments for many neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries, such as Parkinson's disease, brain ischemia and spinal cord injury. Continued progress in neural stem cell research is providing a new future for brain repair.
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