Focus on Helping Brain to Repair Itself from a Range of Degenerative Diseases

From the Fall/Winter 2003 issue of Hopes & Dreams, newsletter of the Illinois Chapter, Huntington's Disease Society of America.

The University of Auckland, School of Medicine is planning to extend their research to study the potential of adult stem cells to help the brain strengthen its defenses against diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy.

The regenerative potential of the human brain was the focus of a keynote address to the Australian Neurosciences society Conference in Adelaide.

The conference attracted medical leaders and researchers from around the world to probe new frontiers in human brain research and factors affecting sensation and perception, learning, memory, movement, sleep, stress and aging.

Richard Faull, Professor of Anatomy of the University of Auckland School of Medicine, said groundbreaking research has shown clear evidence the human brain attempts to repair itself from disease.

“We believe it is possible to help the brain in this process by using a patient’s own stem cells for tissue repair,” he said. “This would open the door to new opportunities to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. By tapping into and genetically engineering the adult stem cells from the diseases adult brain, we could overcome major ethical, immunological and technical problems associated with the more controversial area of embryonic stem cell technology.”

Professor Faull said the studies were supported by a very successful human brain donor program in New Zealand that allowed researchers to probe the degenerative processes associated with various diseases.

“What we have found in the diseased brains is that adult stem cells proliferate to form replacement neurons as well as other repair cells.”

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Created: Feb. 8, 2004
Last updated: Nov. 13, 2010