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Brain cell research offers hope for Alzheimers NEW YORK Feb 28 Reuters Health -- Taking cells from a region of the brain known as the hippocampus an international team of researchers have grown functional brain cells in lab cultures The findings may have profound implications for restoring damaged or degenerative brain cells which occurs in diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons The brain has recently been shown to regenerate some of its cells but scientists were unable to identify the cells known as stem cells that gave rise to the new brain neurons The technique used in this study now gives scientists the ability to identify those stem cells in the brains of living patients and shows that these cells can be stimulated to turn into new neurons principal author Dr Steven A Goldman told Reuters Health In addition it may lead to the development of drugs that would stimulate the formation of new brain cells in people with Alzheimers or other diseases where brain cells degenerate he commented Goldman noted that the use of drugs to stimulate proliferation of new brain cells will probably result in a more successful strategy than attempting to grow the cells outside the body and then placing them back into the brains of patients as some scientists have suggested Goldman of Cornell University Medical College in New York and colleagues surgically extracted brain cells from the hippocampus of eight living male patients ranging in age from 5 to 63 years while they underwent surgery for another reason The investigators isolated stem cells from the brain tissue The stem cells were then grown in culture along with certain factors known to control the development of neurons The cells gave rise to functional neurons
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