Stem cell implants can heal traumatic brain injury

January 16th, 2012 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 16 (IANS) Implanted stem cells have substantially improved cerebral function in animals with brain trauma, but how they did it has remained a mystery. Now an important part of this puzzle has been pieced together by researchers.

In experiments with both lab rats and an apparatus that enabled them to simulate the impact of trauma on human neurons (brain and nerve cells), researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston identified key mechanisms by which implanted human neural stem cells (developing into neurons) help recovery from traumatic axonal injury.

A significant component of traumatic brain injury, traumatic axonal injury involves damage to axons and dendrites, the filaments that extend out from the bodies of the neurons, the Journal of Neurotrauma reports.

The damage continues after the initial trauma, since the axons and dendrites respond to injury by withdrawing back to the bodies of the neurons, according to a Texas statement.

“Axons and dendrites are the basis of neuron-to-neuron communication, and when they are lost, neuron function is lost,” said Ping Wu, professor at UTMBG, who led the study.

“In this study, we found that our stem cell transplantation both prevents further axonal injury and promotes axonal regrowth, through a number of previously unknown molecular mechanisms.”

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