It’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Researchers have reached inside the brain of a rat and pulled out neural stem cells – without harming the animal.
Since the technique uses nanoparticles already approved for use in humans, it is hoped that it could be used to extract neural stem cells (NSCs) from people to treat conditions like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis.
Extracting NSCs from the person who needs them would avoid immune rejection – but they are difficult to remove safely. So Edman Tsang at the University of Oxford and his colleagues have developed a technique to safely fish out NSCs that originate in cavities in the brain called ventricles.
Tsang’s team coated magnetic nanoparticles with antibodies that bond tightly to a protein found on the surface of NSCs. They then injected the nanoparticles into the lateral ventricles of rats’ brains. Six hours later, after the nanoparticles had bonded to the NSCs, the researchers used a magnetic field around the rats’ heads to pull the stem cells together. They could then be sucked out of the brain with a syringe.After freeing the stem cells from the nanoparticles, the team found they could grow them in a dish, suggesting they were undamaged by the process.
The above story is based on materials provided by Newscientist, Colin Barras.