The potential of stem cells to repair brain injuries and advance the treatment of all types of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, is yielding important results in recent years. But it is as complex an area as the brain itself and ensuring the results of each research is fundamental.
This is how one of the world's pioneers in this field understands it, José Ramón Alonso, professor of Cell Biology at the University of Salamanca, who, despite his prudence, has obtained "unprecedented" results with the transplantation of stem cells into mice with genetic brain damage by achieving "significant improvements at the motor level and also at the sensory level," according to the head of research at the University of Salamanca Communication.
Smeralda, Celeste, Daniele, Gioele and Sofia, Federico will no longer need a judge to be able to receive relief from devastating diseases. Stem cell treatment for them and for those who have already started a therapeutic protocol will continue. The decision comes as a surprise from the Council of Ministers. "Exceptionally, the continuation of treatments that do not comply with current legislation is granted for patients for whom they have already been started at the date of entry into force of the decree, always with clinical monitoring," we read in a note.
This was a huge surprise for us.
Why is that? Because this looks exactly like a stem cell culture, with large green cells surrounding small, immature cells. Stem cells are cells capable of transforming into any type of cell in the body. The adult brain has stem cells but they are very rare and are located in small, distant niches in the depths of the brain. Therefore, it was surprising to find this type of stem culture in the superficial part of the brain that we had in the operating room that was swollen.
The researchers, as reported in Stem Cells, have in fact succeeded, through a transplant of neurons, to restore motor functions in the brains of rats affected by an animal model of Parkinson's disease.
A "big breakthrough" in the fight against the disease, although, for now, the testing of the method on humans seems still relatively far away: according to the authors of the study, it will take at least three more years before starting clinical trials in humans.
It is now possible in laboratory mice to change the identity of a brain cell to a neuron by introducing genes into it with inactive viruses. This "cellular reprogramming" process represents a promising way to repair the brain, which will still require a lot of work, but which already appears transposable to humans.