There are several newborns who suffer from brain defects such as learning disabilities which are difficult to cure. However, Prof. Joseph Yanai and his associates at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School have been successful in reversing brain defects in animal models. This comes as a ray of hope for the infants born with brain defects.
The neural and behavioral birth defects occur due to prenatal teratogen. This substance is responsible for the abnormalities in brain. There can be multiple birth defects, if teratogen in the fetal brain acts diffusely.
A successful labrotary test was conducted by Prof. Yanai and his associates to overcome the brain defects using neural embryonic stem cells of mice. The stem cells migrate to the brain and search for deficiency responsible for the defects. Further, they differentiate into cells required to repair the damage.
Stem cells can generate different type of cells in the body. However, after a certain period the stem cells incline towards a general function that has definite role in the nervous system or brain. In a more advanced stage the neural stem cells acquire the supporting function performed by neural or glial cells within the nervous system or brain.
The animal model of the research, shows complete reversal of the learning deficit of the offspring of a pregnant mice. It was performed by direct transplantation of neural cells into the brains of the offspring. The behavioral tests conducted on the treated animals showed a significant improvement in the behavior and learning scores.
The substantial advancement made in the research was that even though most of the neural stem cells died in the host brain, it was discovered that the stem cells succeeded in inducing the host brain itself to generate large number of stem cells, which repaired the damage.
The scientist are trying to develop procedures that are least invasive methods for administering the neural stem cells. It can be achieved through blood vessels, which is expected to be most feasible.
Overcoming the anomalies of immunological rejection, scientist have decided to take the stem cells from the patients body. These cells can be manipulated to return to the stem cell phase of the development. the cells are then transplanted to the patient’s brain through blood stream. This system of transplantation is also expected to overcome controversial ethical issues emerging due to use of embryo stem cells.