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Brain injury scientists have been working on stem cell research in an effort to unravel the damage done to brains following a stroke.
The type of stem cells used in the study are neural cells called Astrocytes and their job is to control what does and does not enter the brain via the blood supply. They have previously been dismissed in the area of brain injury research and deemed as cells which simply support nerve cells.
Historically, research into strokes has focussed on ways in which electrical impulses can be created in the brain as well as tissue restoration. However, the new research indicates Astrocytes are more dynamic than was thought at first.
Wenbin Deng, a Professor at UC Davis in California, and one of the authors of the research published in ‘Nature Communication’ says that Astrocytes may help to restrict the extent of the damage in ischemic brain stroke patients. He said that they may also repair and regenerate damaged brain cells. The Professor added: “Both of these actions may lead to better functional recovery in patients.”
He also said that it is possible the therapy could be used in other nervous system disorders including TBIs ( Traumatic Brain Injuries); cerebral palsy; epilepsy; spinal cord injuries as well as disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures said: “The functional improvement seen in the brain injury models is impressive.”
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Published on 16th February 2015.