London: Scientists in the US have made a major breakthrough that has the potential for people with brain damage, caused by epilepsy or Parkinson`s for example, to use their own brain stem cells as a treatment.
Steven Roper of the University of Florida discovered that stem cells from the human brain that were transplanted into the brains of newborn rats matured and were able to function just like native rat cells.
The researchers found that the adult stem cells had the ability to turn into all types of brain tissue in the rats, including the neocortex, which deals with higher processing, and the hippocampus, involved in memory and spatial awareness.
"We`re showing the most dramatic integration of human adult neurons into rat brains," said Steven Roper who carried out the work with Dennis Steindler.
Using a tissue extracted from a teenage girl`s brain, Roper and his colleague multiplied the cells in the lab. They then genetically engineered them so that the cells glow green under ultraviolet light.
Next, these cells were injected into the brains of newborn rats. After three, the researchers found green cells throughout.
"The cells matured into neurons appropriate for each part of the brain they reached," New Scientist quoted Roper as saying.
It was also found that the cells were functioning properly and were able to signal to rat neurons.
The work will be presented at the meeting of the American Epilepsy Society in Texas.