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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

3-D Technology Enriches Human Nerve Cells for Transplant to Brain

NIH-funded scientists have developed a 3-D micro-scaffold technology that promotes reprogramming of stem cells into neurons and supports growth of neuronal connections capable of transmitting electrical signals. The injection of these networks of functioning human neural cells—compared to injecting individual cells—dramatically improved their survival following transplantation into mouse brains. This is a promising new platform that could make transplantation of neurons a viable treatment for a broad range of human neurodegenerative disorders.

Previously, transplantation of neurons to treat neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, had very limited success due to poor survival of neurons that were injected as a solution of individual cells. The new research is supported by NIBIB.

“Working together, the stem cell biologists and the biomaterials experts developed a system capable of shuttling neural cells through the demanding journey of transplantation and engraftment into host brain tissue,” said Dr. Rosemarie Hunziker, director of the NIBIB Program in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. The results were reported in the Mar. 17 issue of Nature Communications.

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