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Fetal cells, a medicine made available by nature

Fetal cells, a medicine made available by nature

American scientists have recently discovered that cells in the body of a growing fetus migrate and colonize the mother's brain. Findings from lab mice show that fetal cells are "called" to repair the mother's brain, which, if confirmed in humans, could have major prophylactic implications, especially in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

American scientists have recently discovered that cells in the body of a growing fetus migrate and colonize the mother's brain. Findings from lab mice show that fetal cells are "called" to repair the mother's brain, which, if confirmed in humans, could have major prophylactic implications, especially in the treatment of Alzheimer's.
But how do these cells get into the brain of the pregnant woman? It was already known that during pregnancy, a small number of fetal cells migrate to the placenta and into the mother's blood, a phenomenon called microchimerism. Even after birth, these cells can continue to survive for decades in tissues such as those of the liver, skin or spleen and have been shown to help heal these tissues if they are affected.


The fetus-drug variant does not seem so improbable because if the mother is healthy - during pregnancy and after - then the baby has a higher chance of survival. But it is for the first time that fetal cells are found to cross the blood-brain barrier, said Diana Bianchi, an expert in microchimerism. Once it reaches the brain, stem cells develop in virtually all types of brain-specific cells: some that resemble neurons and transmit electrical impulses; astrocytes, which support neurons and oligodendrocytes, which protect nerve cells. It is not known, however, whether the newly arrived cells have the capacity to initiate nerve actions or if they can establish synapses with the mother's nerve cells.
To track the trajectory of these cells, scientists have genetically modified the cells of a female mouse so that they are fluorescent. The cells did not randomly spread, as, at the time when a pulse-like impulse was induced, the number of fetal cells increased six times in the affected area, called the "SOS signal" of the injured tissue - which may indicate involvement their healing process.
The biggest potential benefit of using fetal cells as a treatment in the future is that they can be so easily injected into the bloodstream and left to find their way to the central nervous system. Which could help immensely in treating regions with diffuse injuries, such as those triggered by Alzheimer's disease.
However, the team warned that it may take up to 20 years to develop an effective treatment, because, in a limited number of cases, fetal cells have aggravated the immunological diseases. "It is not yet clear how the fetal cells live in the mother's brain and how they integrate into the specialized functional networks of the brain. Clinical use must be done with the utmost caution," warned Jakub Tolar, professor of microchemistry at the University of Minnesota.
Source: Thought