Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have successfully integrated implanted brain tissue into the brains of adult rats, giving hope to the possibility of cerebral transplants to repair damaged areas of the brain.

The implanted tissue was shown to integrate with existing neurons in the rat’s brain, described as a “Very solid first step” by study leader and assistant professor of neurosurgery, Isaac Chen.

The study demonstrated that human brain organoids – simplified tissues created from stem cells – can be transplanted into injury cavities in the visual cortex, successfully integrating with the visual system.

The researchers believe that this could lead to restored function in the cerebrum, the part of the brain responsible for complex sensory and neural functions, such as initiation and coordination of voluntary activity in the body.

Published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the next step is for researchers to apply the method to other areas of the brain in addition to the visual cortex.

Speaking to the Guardian, Isaac Chen said,

“We were not expecting to see this degree of functional integration so early. This suggests that neural tissue transplantation in the adult mammalian brain, especially one that has been disrupted with some sort of injury, really is a viable path forward for neural repair.”

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