Stem cells restore cognitive abilities impaired by brain tumor treatment, study finds

Nov 09, 2009

Human embryonic stem cells could help people with learning and memory deficits after radiation treatment for brain tumors, suggests a new UC Irvine study.

Research with rats found that transplanted restored learning and memory to normal levels four months after radiotherapy. In contrast, irradiated rats that didn't receive stem cells experienced a more than 50 percent drop in cognitive function.

"Our findings provide the first evidence that such cells can be used to ameliorate radiation-induced damage of healthy tissue in the ," said Charles Limoli, UCI radiation oncology associate professor and senior author of the study, appearing online the week of Nov. 9 in the .

Radiotherapy for brain tumors is limited by how well the surrounding tissue tolerates the treatment. In receiving radiation at levels needed to treat tumors, patients suffer varying degrees of learning and memory impairment that can affect their quality of life.

"It's a progressive, debilitating side effect of cranial irradiation," Limoli said. "Any treatments showing promise at reversing this are worthy of pursuit."

In the UCI study, stem cells were transplanted into the heads of rats that had undergone . They migrated to a brain region known to support the growth of neurons, scientists observed, and developed into new brain cells.

Work is under way to determine how the transplanted stem cells improved cognition: Did they integrate into healthy tissue or did they help repair and support existing brain cells?

Said Limoli: "With further research, stem cells may one day be used to manage a variety of adverse conditions associated with radiotherapy."

Source: University of California - Irvine

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cancer Stem Cells Linked to Radiation Resistance

Oct 18, 2006

Certain types of brain cancer cells, called cancer stem cells, help brain tumors to buffer themselves against radiation treatment by activating a "repair switch" that enables them to continue to grow unchecked, researchers ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...