Doctors would soon be able to grow new brain cells, which would help treat people with stroke or other neurological conditions, with only a small blood sample.
Researchers from Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany and the University of Innsbruck in Austria figured out how to reprogram mature human blood cells in neural stem cells. Researchers have reprogrammed stem cells before, but these new cells are the first to continue to multiply and spread in the lab thanks to specific genetic tweaks, according to research published Thursday in the journal Stamcell.
The researchers hope their results will improve regenerative medicine, a type of treatment where new cells help rejuvenate the body. Specifically, neural stem cells can grow into either the neurons present in the central nervous system or the glial cells that support and protect these neurons. Both can help treat people who have survived stroke or have been diagnosed with neurological disorders.
Previous research that reprogrammed stem cells was never as useful in a medical context as these cells could not continue to proliferate and sometimes tumors which were called teratoms grew according to research.