A study conducted to discover how umbilical cord stem cells repair damage to nerve cells during the development of the fetus has shown that cell therapies are potential therapeutic alternatives to treating neurological conditions caused by brain injury, such as cerebral palsy and hereditary spinocerebellar ataxia.
The study carried out by a group of Japanese researchers at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo has shown how the use of stromal mesenchymal stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord can represent a new hope in the treatment of brain damage caused by trauma or injury.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent, i.e. they can differentiate into various types of cells, including brain nerve cells. MSCs can be expanded in the laboratory to increase their number, and then infused into the patient to regenerate damaged tissues.
According to several studies, stromal mesenchymal cells have been shown to detect dying or damaged neurons, and to migrate to those areas of the brain. They are called worker cells precisely because of their ability to replace or increase the plasticity of damaged brain cells, strengthening the repair mechanisms of the body.
The Japanese team of researchers studied these characteristics of MSCs infused in laboratory mice with trauma or brain injury, recording cell differentiation in neurons that replaced damaged ones, as well as the release of factors to increase growth, survival and development of new neurons.
These data demonstrate the regenerative potential of stromal mesenchymal stem cells, opening up new hopes and possibilities for alternative therapeutic treatments in case of trauma or brain injury, as well as encouraging allogeneic stem cell transplants (transplantation from a compatible donor).