Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston and at several institutions in the United Kingdom recently wrapped up a four-year research program aimed at growing replacement brain tissue. In studies on rats, the researchers found they could regenerate tissue in the fluid-filled cavities that result when part of the brain dies and withers after a stroke.
“The methods we pioneered for repairing brain tissue in stroke victims can also be applied to brain trauma victims, and our team is now investigating this direction,” said Rice’s lead researcher on the project, Jennifer West, department chair and Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering.
BCM team members included principal investigator Karen Hirschi, Mary Dickinson and Malcolm Brenner. UK members included Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute for Medical Research in London; Mike Modo and Jack Price of King’s College in London; and Charles ffrench-Constant of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
In 2006, the group won $4 million from the National Institutes of Health for an investigation into neuro-vascular tissue regeneration. Using adult neural stem cells, the researchers developed a method for injecting a mixture of cells and polymer that allowed test animals to grow new brain tissue in parts of the skull where the brain withers after a stroke.
West said follow-up research is needed to determine whether and how much the newly grown tissue might aid in the recovery from stroke or traumatic brain injury.
West and Dickinson this week announced the results of a follow-up investigation into the feasibility of creating living networks of capillaries for a broad range of regenerated tissues that could be used to repair tissues lost to trauma or disease.
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