Researchers from the University of South Florida mah have a new idea of how stem cells can help repair the brain following trauma such as traumatic brain injuries. The findings of a series of preclinical experiments, published online in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, showed that transplanted cells appear to build a “biobridge” which connects an uninjured area of the brain where new neural stem cells are born with the damaged region of the brain.
Cesar Borlongan, PhD, professor and director of the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair, told Medical Xpress, “The transplanted stem cells serve as migratory cues for the brain’s own neurogenic cells, guiding the exodus of these newly formed host cells from their neurogenic niche towards the injured tissue.”
Stem cells are undifferentiated, with the potential to give rise to numerous cell types with different functions. For example, stem cells in adult bone marrow or umbilical cord blood tend to develop into the cells that make up the organ system from which they originated. However, multipotent stem cells can be manipulated to take on the characteristics of neural cells.
There were two previously widely-held theories as to how stem cells may function to offer potential treatments for brain damage or injury. One idea suggested that stem cells implanted directly into the brain may replace dead or dying cells, while the other idea held that transplanted stem cells secrete growth factors which indirectly aid injured tissue. This research offers an entirely new possibility.