Scientists found that implanting embryonic neurons in mice with brain damage may treat the deterioration of the brain. The principle used in the research can be further studied especially when it comes to applying it to patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and head trauma.
Transplant of New Neurons
A team of German scientists conducted a study by transplanting new foreign neuron stem cells in the brain into the mouse’s visual brain area, called the visual cortex, with the use of a laser to damage the small tissue. This area was chosen since it is already well-known and studied making the evaluation of the results of the transplant to be clearer and reliable.
After a month, the researchers examined and saw what was described as long, arm-like neuron growths coupled with a healthy electrical activity. All these shows the brain successfully responds to the transplant of embryonic neurons.
According to the study’s co-author Susanna Falkner, a Ph.D. student at Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, our brain may potentially, and wonderfully, be repaired with its capability of “integrating new building blocks.” She also added that therapies of replacing neurons may be feasible when there is still a “sufficient part of the pre-existing neuronal network.”
In-Depth With How the Treatment Works
The vital network of neurons is a huge factor in considering how we perceive the environment. These neurons are the basic working unit of our brain that is responsible for transmitting information within our nervous system. With that, our body can function properly along with its complexities.
When broken or unwell, our bodies are known to have a way to regenerate itself. Our skin heals from wounds. Our bone tissue grows again after an injury.
However, brain neurons do not. It is long believed by scientists that once neurons die, they are gone forever. Further studies, on the other hand, shed light on the possibility that adults can actually grow new neurons.
Moreover, some of the regeneration allegedly occurs in the brain’s hippocampus which is usually strongly attacked by Alzheimer’s disease. The study by Falkner and the team, published in Nature, adds to this theory, or somehow build the principle of the treatment around it.
Their idea was to replace the damaged cells, usually from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and head trauma injury, with healthy ones. They used the same idea of repairing machines by replacing the broken parts with those that are new and working properly.
New Avenues For Treatment
To date, there is no treatment for disorders like AD. There is no drug yet to stop the disease and its progression. The ones we have today can only improve the symptoms while millions of people in the world are suffering a deteriorating mental health.
Studies like the ones conducted by the team, while still in its early stages, provides better understanding and more channels to explore when it comes to getting to know how our brain, including disorders, works. And many are currently exploring them which send hope to many patients around the world.
The lead author of the medical research and a Ludwig-Maximillians University neuroscientist, Magdalena Götz, shares that they are currently doing “more realistic models.” Moreover, the transplant of embryonic neurons, with traumatic and ischemic brain injury models, is, fortunately, looking “pretty good.”