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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Adult Brain Stem Cells Help Regenerate Damaged Brains in Mice



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This experiment determined that "adult stem cells in a specific region of the mouse brain have a built-in mechanism that allows the cells to participate in the repair and remodeling of damaged tissue in the region...'The results were very surprising,' says [Chay T.] Kuo. 'Our results show that neural stem cells in mice have the ability to sense damage in their environment that leads to their subsequent proliferation to help restore local tissue integrity. If we can figure out how this happens, and determine that it occurs in human neural stem cells, we may be able to increase the effect and harness it for therapeutic use.'"

Intriguingly, this is similar to the experiment conducted on Dennis Turner several years ago, which appeared to spark a remission from Parkinson's. A pea sized section of Turner's brain was removed, and neural stem cells isolated. They were proliferated in culture and returned to Turner's brain. Turner subsequently enjoyed an almost complete alleviation of symptoms and was able to dramatically reduce his level of medication. The effect--if that is what it was since one experimental success does not a cure make--lasted almost 4 years, after which symptoms began to return.

This much we know: There is great hope that a robust regenerative medicine sector can be developed for the alleviation of human suffering without having to resort to unethical means such as human cloning.

And this too: It demonstrates how utterly indispensible it is that animals continue to be used in medical research.


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