Can stem cells replace neurons

Neural cells: replace lost brain cells?

Accordingly, one could assume that the brain is also able to regenerate nerve cells and thus repair existing damage. Unfortunately this is not so. The brain does not regenerate sufficiently when it is damaged - in contrast to the skin, for example. It is still unclear why our brain does not use the potential of the existing stem cells. Only in two brain regions - the hippocampus and the olfactory brain - are new nerve cells continuously formed in adulthood. Everywhere else the stem cells seem to be dormant or "only" produce glial cells.

Stem cells of the nervous system can be multiplied relatively easily in cell culture. It would therefore be conceivable that the patient's own stem cells could be taken from an intact brain region, multiplied in the cell culture and then re-implanted in the diseased region. This method could potentially be used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. In Sweden and the USA, people with Parkinson's disease are currently being implanted with immature, embryonic brain cells.

The treatment is technically very complex and difficult. It is also problematic from an ethical point of view, as the brain tissue comes from aborted embryos. That is why it is not permitted in Germany under the Embryo Protection Act. The possibility of extracting neuronal stem cells from the patient himself would be ethically less problematic. In addition, the use of stem cells would be more targeted and defined than that of embryonic brain cells. In animal experiments it was shown that neuronal stem cells can be isolated from almost the entire adult brain and reproduced in cell cultures. The treatment of neurological diseases with stem cells is thus becoming possible. la

Source: research 3-4 / 2000, p. 45