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Stem cells help brain repair, make new neurons and blood vessels after stroke

In the first hours and days following a stroke, stem cells leave the bone marrow to help the injured brain repair damaged neurons and make new neurons and blood vessels, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.

The research, reported in the May issue of Stroke, used a mouse model in which the animals marrow was replaced with that of a transgenic mouse with cells that make a jellyfish protein that fluoresces green so they could trace the cells and the natural repair process that apparently occurs after stroke.

The researchers are now looking for the right factors to enhance the normal repair mechanism, improve stroke recovery and, since the patients own cells would be used, avoid issues such as the compatibility of donated stem cells and the ethical controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells.

They also want to identify which bone marrow stem cell types are targeted for this repair and how they are called to the site of injury, suspecting that inflammation may be part of this homing process.

We tried to determine whether cells that reside in your bone marrow and circulate throughout the blood could turn into any of the major brain cells types, said Dr. David Hess, neurologist, stroke specialist, chairman of the MCG Department of Neurology and lead author on the study.

They found in the animal model, evidence that bone marrow cells naturally migrate to injured regions of the brain after stroke to help repair damaged tissue; they also become endothelial cells that form new blood vessels and what appear to be new neurons.

Such repairs occurred naturally in response to stroke and the bone marrow is involved in those repair mechanisms, said Dr. William D. Hill, neuroscientist in the MCG Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy and second author on the research paper. We think that when you have a stroke, you have this central core area that is highly affected. Then y
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mail.mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
2-May-2002


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