Injection produces new brain cells
An injection can convert some of the brain’s supporting cells into nerve cells, according to scientists from the Peking University. This holds out hopes of a new treatment for people with dementia, brain injury, and similar conditions.
Apart from nerve cells, the brain includes major quantities of different supporting cells. One type is astrocytes, which remove superfluous neurotransmitters and toxins. The brain includes 10 times as many of the tough astrocytes as nerve cells. The scientists injected small portions of carefully selected molecules into the brains of mice over a period of two weeks. Eight weeks later, the scientists took samples of the brain tissue, which showed that a major quantity of the astrocytes had changed to resemble nerve cells. The converted astrocytes could send electric impulses and produce new links just like nerve cells. After a year, the scientists studied the cells again, and the converted cells had kept their new functions with no signs of negative side effects. However, they do not know, how the mice experienced the treatment, and although the research opens wide perspectives, it will probably be a long time, before the method is tested on humans.
Supporting cells, called astrocytes, can be converted into nerve cells by means of chemicals.