Findings could improve retinal and other nervous system transplants
For the first time scientists have shown that brain stem cells are immune privileged, which means that they are invisible to a transplant recipients immune system and do not trigger the immune system to reject them. These results, published in the July issue of Stem Cells, indicate that using central nervous system stem cells in transplants for diseases of the eye (which is part of the brain), brain, and spinal cord, may eliminate the need for tissue typing before, and immunosuppressive drugs after, transplantation. Ultimately these findings promise to improve the success of retinal transplantation to regenerate vision for millions with macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy and brain transplants to restore functioning for patients with disorders such as Parkinsons disease.
"These findings are very exciting," says Michael Young, PhD, the lead author of the study and an assistant scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. "Though we suspected brain stem cells might be protected in this way, this is the first documented evidence."
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