A new study has added to the growing evidence that it might be possible to repair brain damage naturally by showing that cells return to an embryonic state after an injury.
For many years, scientists believed that there was little or nothing that can be done about brain damage, especially in adults. This is mainly because of the belief that the brain became immutable in adulthood.
The treatment of brain and spinal cord injuries in adults has proven to be one of the most difficult for medical experts.
The new study by a group of University of California San Diego researchers showed that old brain cells revert to an embryo-like state when damaged. Interestingly, the immature cells showed the potential of making new connections and restoring lost functions.
The research, which appeared in Nature, adds to growing evidence that stem cells may help to repair brain and spinal cord damage.
“Using the incredible tools of modern neuroscience, molecular genetics, virology and computational power, we were able for the first time to identify how the entire set of genes in an adult brain cell resets itself in order to regenerate,” said Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, senior author and professor of neuroscience at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
The researchers said their findings open the way for the promotion of adult brain regeneration at a transcriptional level.