by Julia Newman (’19)
Although there is currently no successful treatment for traumatic brain injuries, researchers at the University of California recently tested a new and promising method using human neural stem cells (hNSC), which have been found to be multipotent. Experiments in the past were performed solely on rats using immunosuppressant drugs in order to prevent transplant rejection, but this study found it more effective to use naturally immunodeficient rats. Unlike previous studies, these rats survived at least two months post-injury, which is considered long-term compared to the survival rates using alternative treatments.
The length of time of survival of the stem cells was groundbreaking. Up to 25% of the cells within the rates survived at least five months and some even successfully differentiated, restoring cognitive function within the brain. Additionally, the transplant did not cause the development of any lesions or the loss of any brain tissue, as seen in previous transplant attempts.
- Haus, et al., Transplantation of human neural stem cells restores cognition in an immunodeficient rodent model of traumatic brain injury. Experimental Neurology 281, 1-16 (2016).
- Image retrieved from: http://www.britannica.com/science/prenatal-development/images-videos/Humanneural- stem-cells/121460