Brain's Own Stem Cells Might Fight Alzheimer's
Like many neurodegenerative illnesses, Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the uncontrolled death of precious brain cells. But in their unique ability to develop into any cell type, stem cells have long held out the tantalizing hope of replenishing neurons lost to the disease, a process called neurogenesis. Unfortunately, transplanting these stem cells from outside sources -- such as embryos or bone marrow -- carries its own risks and complications. But one researcher believes the best solution to Alzheimer's may lie closest to home: within the brain itself. The activation of dormant stem cells in the patient's own brain could someday allow doctors to re-grow lost cells without resorting to surgery, and in ways that target exactly those areas of the brain -- and specific types of cells -- damaged by disease.