An insulin-like signal has been found to be necessary for stem cells to continue existing in the brain, opening doors for scientists who want to find ways to repair cerebral injuries using the pluripotent organisms.

The UC Berkeley team has found that keeping the insulin receptor activated prevented neural stem cells from dying in fruit flies as their brains matured. They are unsure as of now if this process would work in human systems.

“This work doesn’t point the way to taking an adult who has already lost stem cells and bringing them back mysteriously, but it suggests what mechanisms might be operating to get rid of them in the first place,” Iswar K. Hariharan, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley said in a press release. “Plus, if you were able to introduce neural stem cells into an adult brain, this suggests what kinds of mechanisms you might need to have in place to keep them alive.”

While researchers have been successful in keeping the cells alive by deactivating proteins that would lead them to die, only with the insulin-like signal were the cells healthy.

The paper was published in March’s online edition of the journal Science.