Issue Date: October 31, 2016
Transplanted neurons could heal injuries, restore sight
When neurons die, they cannot be repaired—but perhaps they can be replaced. The idea of transplanting cells into injured brains has shown promise in the clinic. For example, some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease patients were alleviated after they received transplants of fetal brain cells to peripheral regions of the brain. But researchers did not know whether transplanted neurons can truly be integrated into preexisting circuits and participate in neural pathways. Now, a team led Mark Hübener of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and Magdalena Götz of the Institute of Stem Cell Research at Munich’s Helmholtz Center have shown that embryonic neurons transplanted into the injured visual cortex of adult mice establish connections with other cells in the brain such that their neurological responses “become indistinguishable from those of host neurons” (Nature 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nature20113). If the work in mice holds true in humans, this finding could lay a path toward healing brain injuries. An important next step is identifying chemical guidance cues that allow foreign cells to pass as native.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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