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Can replacement neurons repair a brain injury?

A recent study published in the journal Nature reports that when embryonic neurons are transplanted into mice brains that are damaged, the proper connections were formed. Brain function was restored. What does this mean for the estimated 1.7 million Americans that suffer a traumatic brain injury each year?

Nothing for the moment; however, this could change after seeing that the neuron transplant could work. By the fourth week after the neurons were transplanted in the mice brains, researchers were able to see the types of cells that were normally seen in that specific area of the brain. The cells functioned as expected and they didn’t develop connection that could lead to seizures. Even though there are a number of challenges left, the researchers believe that repairing brain injuries by using similar neurons is possible in the future.

There are some very complicated questions that come with these findings, too, such as “What if the new neurons become cancerous?” and “Would the trauma of brain surgery cause a patient more harm than benefit from the transplant?”

Stroke patients may be able to be helped with this type of treatment, although there is much that has to be done in terms of safety. Brain injuries are not all the same, and they can involve different types of neurons, occur in various locations in the brain and can also include inflammation. The researchers hope that these problems can eventually be solved.

Neuron transplantation is not completely new. People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease have found symptom relief with a transplant of dopamine-secreting neurons. Those neurons were actually from a pig’s brain.

While this research is certainly positive, those who suffer from a brain injury will continue to need treatment and medical care that can be very expensive. For those who were injured due to another person’s actions, compensation can be sought through a civil lawsuit. An attorney can tell you more.

Source: Huffington Post, “Scientists Take Big Step Toward Being Able To Repair Brain Injuries,” Bahar Gholipour, Oct. 28, 2016

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