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Stem Cells and Brain Damage

Article written by:
Dr. Francisco Arroyo
Medical Director of SportsMed
Sports Medicine & Stem Cell Specialist
Medical | Regenerative Medicine

Stem Cells and Brain Damage

For some years now I have been indirectly or directly related to stem cells and some of the treatment protocols that are still valid to date.

As we know, stem cells have the ability to reproduce and carry out functions of many cells that have been damaged in their function (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cartilage, etc.) Research continues, and one such study I will present here, which is related to its use in brain damage.

One of the latest studies carried out, though done experimentally in rodents, aims to understand how we can use stem cells to help us in cases such as a stroke or in the recovery of a neuronal injury that has been damaged.

The researchers’ objective was to learn how to make a protein that is produced naturally in our body to direct stem cells to repair brain tissue that is damaged. In the study of a group of rodents with a brain disease, a new molecule made by the researchers was applied to them. This has led them to survive a severe brain injury, delay the presentation of symptoms and open a new chapter in repairing damaged brain tissue in humans.

We know that stem cells normally have the ability to repair tissues, but this ability is limited and does not always produce the results we want. So researchers always look for ways to improve these results by taking advantage of the healing mechanisms of our body, which today we call: Regenerative Medicine.

But how do we ensure that the damaged parts that are emitting chemical signals called chemokines, which in turn cause more inflammation, (which in the brain in the long term results in a more harmful than beneficial effect), stop sending them?

A group of researchers led by Dr. Evan Snyder (Snyder et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020 Nov 20:201911444. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1911444117. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33219123) of the Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery, tried what can be called natural engineering of chemokines, so that they attract mother cells to the site of the nervous system tissue injury.

The results were published in November 2020 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and, although the results have come up favorably in rodents, they are also very promising if we apply this to all people with injuries or illnesses of the nervous system.

In the words of the researchers, “the ability to direct stem cells to go to a certain region of the body is like the Holy Grail of Regenerative Medicine, since for the first time we can direct and focus on its therapeutic effect.”

We will have to follow this research closely because it promises much in the treatment of diseases and nerve injuries, such as embolisms, thrombosis and cerebral infarctions as well as traumatic injuries of the spinal cord or peripheral nerves.

Article written by:
Dr. Francisco Arroyo – Medical Director of SportMed