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Cells taken from umbilical cords after birth may offer a source of material — free of the ethical concerns of fetal tissue — for repairing brains damaged by strokes and other ills.
In animal experiments, the cells appear to greatly speed recovery after strokes. They work with a simple infusion into the bloodstream without the need for direct implantation into the brain, Paul R. Sanberg of the University of South Florida reported at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Sanberg and his colleagues removed stem cells from cords, then used retinoic acid and growth hormones to transform them into immature nerve cells. They then injected 3 million of the cells into the bloodstreams of rats that had suffered strokes. In experiments on about 60 animals, those given the cells recovered about 80 percent from their strokes, compared with about 20 percent in untreated rats.
How the new cells rewire the damaged parts of the brain is unclear, the researcher said.
[18Feb01, Associated Press, San Francisco;  © 2001 Washington Post; Culture of Life Fdn, 19Feb01]