Adult Stem Cell Research May Lead to Treatments for Brain Injuries, Disease

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 1, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Adult Stem Cell Research May Lead to Treatments for Brain Injuries, Disease Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 1,

Irvine, CA ( — A new study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine finds another advance in the use of adult stem cells. In this case, researchers used the stem cells from the brain of a mouse to restore memory following a brain injury.

The team used the neural stem cells to protect existing cells that were still healthy following the injury and to restore neuronal connections that had been damaged.

Scientists were able to restore the brain to pre-damaged levels three months following the treatment.

Lead researcher Mathew Blurton-Jones, a postdoctorate fellow at the university, told the Washington Post that this discovery could lead to treatment of brain injury, stroke and dementia in people if it can be replicated in humans.

"This is one of the first reports that you can take a stem cell transplantation approach and restore memory," he said.

"There is a lot of awareness that stem cells might be useful in treating diseases that cause loss of motor function, but this study shows that they might benefit memory in stroke or traumatic brain injury, and potentially Alzheimer’s disease," he told the newspaper.

Dr. David Prentice, a leading bioethics expert associated with the Family Research Council, told he was pleased with the findings.

"These published findings from UC-Irvine are an important step forward in developing treatments for brain injury or disease using adult stem cells," he said.

"The discovery that these cells can help repair parts of the brain associated with memory opens more possibilities for adult stem cell therapies," he added.

Prentice said the results dovetail nicely with another report in that same journal, where Yale researchers found that adult neural stem cells are trained by other parts of the brain before they make connections, emphasizing their natural ability to repair brain damage.

The UC Irvine study is published in the October 31 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.