Washington, Feb 20 : Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have repaired stroke-related damage in the brains of rats, and restored their movements, by using human embryonic stem cells.
The researchers used human embryonic stem cells to generate neural cells that were found to improve a rat's physical abilities prevented tumour growth when transplanted.
"Human embryonic stem cell-based therapies have the potential to help treat this complex disease," said Gary Steinberg, senior author.
These stem cells have that ability to form any cell type in the body but pushing those cells to form neurons rather than other types of cells has been a major obstacle.
Though these cells also retain the ability to renew themselves and produce all tissue types but they also tend to grow uncontrollably into tumours consisting of a mass of different cells.
Marcel Daadi first author on the study along with Anne-Lise Maag, a former Stanford medical student, transplanted these cells grown in the lab, into the brains of 10 rats with stroke.
The findings revealed that the cells had migrated to the damaged brain region and integrated into the surrounding tissue without forming tumours
The replacement cells helped repair damage from the stroke. It also showed that the animals were able to use their forelimbs normally.
"The great thing about these cells is that they are in unlimited supply and are very versatile," said Daadi.
"The neural cells the group generated grew indefinitely in the lab and could be an ongoing source of cells for treating stroke or other injuries, he added.
Steinberg hopes that the cells from this study can be used in human stroke trials within five years but requires more work to determine whether a similar approach would work in humans.
This study is published in PLoS journal.