WASHINGTON — Brain tissue has been nurtured into a colony of living cells that eventually may be used to replace the damaged brain cells of people who suffer from Alzheimer's, stroke or head injury.
Dr. Solomon Snyder of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore said his research team has developed the first continuous culture of human brain cells that divide and grow in laboratory dishes. Other researchers said the discovery may cause an explosion of new research and treatment.
Years of laboratory studies on the cells will be needed before the brain cells can be used on human patients, Snyder said.
Brains damaged by degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, or by stroke or trauma, may one day be repaired by transplanting cells grown from the brain cells cultured in Snyder's lab, he said.
The study is published in today's edition of the journal Science.
Barbara Bregman, a brain researcher at Georgetown University, said it was premature to suggest that the cell line could eventually be used for brain tissue transplants. But she said the fact that a living culture of human brain cells has been developed "is very valuable and exciting" and will enable scientists to conduct brain experiments not possible before.