Swedish scientists identify stem cells that form new brain material

A newly discovered type of stem cell in the adult brain apparently forms new brain cells, offering a possible way to repair various neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries, Swedish researchers believe. Details are published in the journal PLoS One.

Specifically, Lund University scientists looked at brain tissue from biopsies and identified these new stem cells around the brain's small blood vessels. While the findings are based on brain tissue from biopsies and are in their early stages, scientists have developed some evidence that similar cells in other organs have helped repair tissue and wounds, regenerating muscle, bone and cartilage, among other things.

Lots more research must be done with more detailed animal and then human testing to prove the finding viable. And scientists say they're not quite sure yet how these cells specifically function. But, they argue, the neuronal cells offer significant potential to hit therapeutic targets for both stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, due to their "plastic" nature. There have been so many stem cell advances in recent months, converting stem cells into different, more specific ones for therapeutic use, and this finding potentially dovetails nicely with those advances. Early-stage discoveries are far from viable cures, but it's a promising discovery all the same.

"Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and that these cells are very versatile," Gesine Paul-Visse, a Lund University associate professor of neuroscience, said in a statement.

- here's the release
- check out the journal article