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New research indicates that increasing brain stiffness with age causes brain stem dysfunction.

But scientists have demonstrated ways to return older stem cells to a younger, healthier state, potentially affecting future treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS).

The team, based at the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (University of Cambridge), studied old and young rat brains to understand the impact of age-related stiffening on oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs).

These cells are vital for maintaining normal brain function, and for the regeneration of myelin – the fatty sheath that surrounds nerves and which is damaged in multiple sclerosis (MS).

The effects of age on these cells contributes to MS, but their function also declines with age in healthy people.

When the old brain cells were grown on the soft material, they began to function like young cells – in other words, they were rejuvenated

Dr Kevin Chalut

Dr Kevin Chalut, who co-led the research, said: “We were fascinated to see that when we grew young, functioning rat brain stem cells on the stiff material, the cells became dysfunctional and lost their ability to regenerate, and in fact began to function like aged cells. Read more

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New research indicates that increasing brain stiffness with age causes brain stem dysfunction.

But scientists have demonstrated ways to return older stem cells to a younger, healthier state, potentially affecting future treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS).

New research indicates that increasing brain stiffness with age causes brain stem dysfunction.

But scientists have demonstrated ways to return older stem cells to a younger, healthier state, potentially affecting future treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS).

New research indicates that increasing brain stiffness with age causes brain stem dysfunction.

But scientists have demonstrated ways to return older stem cells to a younger, healthier state, potentially affecting future treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS).