A new kind of stem cell that can form new brain cells have been discovered by researchers from Lund University leading to hopes for people with serious brain injuries.
Analysing brain tissue from biopsies, the researchers for the first time found stem cells locatedaround small blood vessels in the brain. The cell's specific function is still unclear, but its plasticproperties suggest great potential. A similar cell type has been identified in several other organs where it can promote regeneration of muscle, bone, cartilage and adipose tissue.
In other organs, researchers have shown clear evidence that these types of cells contribute torepair and wound healing. Scientists suggest that the curative properties may also apply to thebrain. The next step is to try to control and enhance stem cell self-healing properties with the aimof carrying out therapies targeted to a specific area of the brain."Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and thatthese cells are very versatile," said Gesine Paul-Visse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Lund University. "Most interesting is their ability to form neuronal cells, but they can also be developed for other cell types. The results contribute to better understanding of how brain cell plasticity works and opens up new opportunities to exploit these very features."
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE
, is of interest to a broad spectrum of brainresearch. Future possible therapeutic targets range from neurodegenerative diseases to stroke.
"We hope that our findings may lead to a new and better understanding of the brain's own repairmechanisms," said Dr. Paul-Visse. "Ultimately the goal is to strengthen these mechanisms anddevelop new treatments that can repair the diseased brain."