Scientists at the University of Florida have discovered a way to seperate brain cells in for the potential use as treatment for patients suffering from a wide range of diseases, including traumatic brain injury. The technique could be applied to stem cell treatments for Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries as it would allow doctors to deliver neurons to patients without including large amounts of other types of unnecessary brain cells.

Brent A. Reynolds, professor of Neurosurgery with UF's McKnight Brain Institute says, " We need to be able to deliver precise doses of the therapeutic drug, which in this case is neurons, that are needed to restore function lost as a result of disease or injury." He goes on to state, "Prior to the development of our technology, it was not possible to deliver highly pure populations of neurons, or to be able to control the number of neurons delivered."

This method uses non-controversial adult brain tissue, and researchers, experimenting with neural stem cells from rodents, were able to generate hearty, immature cells that will be fully committed to becoming neurons. This discovery leads researchers to believe it will be possible to provide unlimited quantites of neurons from a safe, renewable source of cells for replacement therapies in the central nervous system.

The researchers explain that by suspending neural stem cell offspring in a tissue culture medium and running it through a cytometer, they were able to efficiently select and seperate the neurons from other less desirable brain cells, based solely on their unique size and internal composition.

Reynolds says that transplantation therapies using neural stem cells are moving forward into clinical trials with about 6 or 7 groups around the world testing them for safety and efficiency. He says "whether it will work or not is yet to be seen. This technology is going to increase the chances that transplantation will show efficacy and will be a valid approach to repair the injured brain."

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