The research showed that so-called induced pluripotent stem cells have developed to mature nerve cells at two months after transplantation into the stroke-injured cerebral cortex of rats. These nerve cells have established contact with other important structures in the brain.
Olle Lindvall, senior consultant and professor of neurology and one of the scientists responsible for the study, said that the results are promising and represent a very early but important step towards a stem cell-based treatment for stroke in patients.
Following a stroke, nerve cells in the brain die and if these cells could be replaced by new healthy cells, this approach might be developed into a treatment. At Lund Stem Cell Center, Zaal Kokaia's and Olle Lindvall's research group is working with the aim to develop a stem cell-based method to treat patients with stroke.
The research group has first reprogrammed skin cells from an adult human to induced pluripotent stem cells and then induced these cells to become mature nerve cells characteristic for the cerebral cortex.
By using the method of induced pluripotent stem cells we have been able to generate cells which express those markers which are typical for nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and we have also shown that the new nerve cells are functional, Kokaia said.
The study is published in the scientific journal Brain.