Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Brain Transplant
27 January 2013

Brain Transplant

Brain transplants may seem like science fiction but for Huntington’s disease patients the concept brings hope. This progressive disorder is caused by the loss of neurons [brain cells] that die in response to the build up of a toxic mutant protein. If scientists could replace the lost cells with those containing a normal protein is it possible they could lessen the symptoms? Such an innovative technique is risky so must be tested in a model system to show that the treatment works and is safe. The picture shows such a model: human stem cells – with the capability to become any cell – were cultivated into neurons and then transplanted (stained green) into the region of a rat’s brain (shown in red) worst affected by a form of Huntington’s. The research is still at an early stage but has potential as a treatment for more common brain disorders such as dementia.

Written by Julie Webb

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