Brain Cells Regrew in Stroke Damaged Brains in Mice
Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) published results of a study, May 21, 2018 in Nature Materials of an amazing never-before-seen treatment that allowed brain cells damaged by a stroke to regrow in the brains of mice.
Goal of Study was to Determine if Treatment Could be a Successful Intervention in the Period Immediately Following a Stroke
Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael, Professor and Chair of Neurology at UCLA and Dr. Tatiana Segura, a former Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA, now a professor at Duke University worked together on the study. The goal of the research was to determine if this treatment could repair the brain in the period immediately following a stroke and lead to recovery.
Neurons Regrew in an Angiogenic Material Injected into Stroke Damaged Empty Scar Cavities in the Brain
The mice, whose brains were damaged by strokes, were able to grow new neurons and blood vessels in an angiogenic biomaterial, which acted as a platform inside of scar cavities in their brains. The brain is normally not able to regrow damaged brain cells unlike other body organs like the kidneys or liver that can regrow cells after damage. Usually the area in the brain that is hit by a stroke simply becomes a scarred kind of empty cavity. However, this special angiogenic material was injected into the cavity left by the stroke and formed a kind of supporting platform, so that the brain could regrow new neurons and blood vessels. The angiogenic substance contains special molecules that stimulate the blood vessels to grow and also combat inflammation which would cause more scarring and damage.
Mice Regained Motor Ability 16 Weeks after Treatment
Amazingly, after 16 weeks, the stroke cavities were filled with new regenerated brain tissue that grew back from tissue that had been dead. The angiogenic material was eventually expelled from the bodies of the mice, since it was no longer needed. The researchers reported that the mice seemed to have improved motor ability after they got their new brain cells.
Strokes are the Major Cause of Disability in Seniors and the 5th Cause of Death in the US
Carmichael and Segura are now planning new research to see if this treatment, which worked in the period immediately following a stroke, could also work a long time after a stroke has hit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. Every year more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke and about 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. Stroke is the main cause for serious disability in seniors. More than half of stroke survivors over the age of 65 are left with reduced mobility.
This has extraordinary potential for the treatment of strokes in humans, especially if the regrown neurons can undo the damage left by the stroke. It remains to be seen if this treatment can only be initiated in the period immediately following a stroke or if it can offer hope to those who suffered strokes in the past.