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Stanford Medicine

Cancer, Neuroscience, Research, Stem Cells

Could stem cells help brain-cancer patients regain cognitive abilities?

A new study, to be published in Cancer Research on July 15, suggests that stem cells may be the key to restoring cognitive functions such as learning and memory after brain tumor treatment.

Radiation therapy can be highly effective in eliminating otherwise-deadly brain tumors, but rarely without taking a toll on neighboring healthy brain cells. As described in a release, neural radiation can cause patients’ IQs to drop by as many as three points per year.

For this study, researchers from UC Irvine transplanted stem cells into the brains of rats whose brains had undergone radiation two days prior. They measured the rats’ cognitive abilities several months later and found that 15 percent of the stem cells that had survived in the rats’ brains had developed into neurons, while another 45 percent of the cells had developed into equally crucial supporting glial cells. The stem-cell-treated rats exhibited restored brain function, while irradiated rats that didn’t receive the stem-cell treatment showed no improvement.

Radiation oncology professor Charles Limoli, PhD, says the next step would be to test this in humans:

While much work remains, a clinical trial analyzing the safety of such approaches may be possible within a few years, most likely with patients afflicted with glioblastoma multiforme, a particularly aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.

4 Responses to “ Could stem cells help brain-cancer patients regain cognitive abilities? ”

  1. Alisa D. Nickelson Says:

    My son has late cognitive effects from radiation to a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. We would be very interested in human trials.

  2. Could stem cells help brain-cancer patients regain cognitive … | Brain cancer Stories Says:

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  3. Imants Kaupe Says:

    In 1968, I underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor – medulla blastoma – that included a sequence of (Cobalt) radiation treatments. As a result, over 43 years later I have lost the ability to control my legs (according to a neuro surgeon in Sacramento). Shortly later, I got the idea of using stem cells – preferably from my own body – to restore the neural path that had been damaged by the radiation. At what stage and activity is this type of neural activity at, and could some day I could benefit from it?

  4. Shahjahan Says:

    My nephew has undergon surgery, radiation and chemo for glioblastoma multiforme. I would more than glad if something comes out of this research very soon. Can anyone suggest if any trial on human is under process, and is there a possibility for this trial site in INDIA?


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