Researchers used a gel infused with molecules which stimulates blood vessel growth and suppresses inflammation. They injected this into mice brains which had features of a stroke – IE scar tissue damage.
After 16 weeks, the scientists found that stroke cavities in mice had rejuvenated brain tissue, including fully functioning neural networks.
The mice with new neural networks showed improved motor behaviour in results which had never been seen before.
The brain has limited ability when it comes to recovering from a stroke.
Although other organs in the body are adept at healing themselves, the brain struggles in this capacity as it cannot create new connections, blood vessels or tissue structures.
Tissue which dies during a stroke, a result of when blood supply is cut off from the brain, is absorbed into the body, leaving only a cavity.
The results, which were published in the journal Nature Materials, suggest the treatment will one day be appropriate to use on humans who have suffered from a stroke.
Dr Thomas Carmichael, Professor and Chair of neurology at University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), said: “We tested this in laboratory mice to determine if it would repair the brain in a model of stroke, and lead to recovery.
“This study indicated that new brain tissue can be regenerated in what was previously just an inactive brain scar after stroke.”
Dr Tatiana Segura, a former Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA, said: “The new axons could actually be working.
“Or the new tissue could be improving the performance of the surrounding, unharmed brain tissue.”
The experiment was carried out shortly after the mice developed stroke-like symptoms and the researchers say that the next move will be to see if the gel works long after the stroke has taken place.