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Neuroscience & Neurology 0 Comments Neuronal Transplantation May Restore Brain Functionality

Artificial limbs let receivers lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Organ transplantations give new life to people. Science has advanced so far that it can even tinker with the workings of the brain to explore ways in which lost brain functions can be revived. Experiments are already underway to determine if neuronal transplantation can replace and restore the functionality of lost or damaged neurons.

Experiments conducted on laboratory mice provide a glimmer of hope. For instance, in a recent experiment, embryonic neurons were transplanted into the visual cortex of vision-impaired mice. These animals began to see a few weeks after the transplantation!

The findings of experiments like this one are exciting and have already led scientists to wonder if neuronal transplantation holds the key to curing brain disorders and cognitive, motor, and sensory impairment.

Neuronal transplantation and plasticity of the human brain

The term “plasticity” refers to the ability of the neuronal pathways and synaptic connections to change in response to novel experiences. It was once believed that the neural pathways and connections in the brain became fixed after an individual reaches a certain age. Not only laymen but also scientists in some quarters believed that only a child’s brain can shape and reshape itself in response to events and experiences. But the above-mentioned experiment on mice turns this idea right on its head.

Scientists have been carrying out experiments on neuronal transplantation over the past decade or so. One study points to the immense significance of stem cells in aiding neural regeneration after transplantation. Stem cells are primitive cells that can not only regenerate but also develop and differentiate into other types of cells with various functionalities.

In humans, it is believed that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can be transplanted to reverse the effects of diseases, aging, developmental defects, and other types of tissue damage.

Neuronal transplantation: how did the mice get their sight back?

In a landmark experiment, embryonic neurons with GABA were injected into the visual cortex regions of adult laboratory mice with visual impairment. The neurotransmitter GABA is instrumental in controlling vision and several motor and cortical functions in organisms.

Several weeks after the transplantation, the mice were tested for their visual capabilities. It was found that those who were injected with the neurons not only displayed normal visual clarity but also younger and more flexible brains. It is evident from this experiment that the implanted neurons integrated seamlessly into the GABA-deficient region of the mice brain. What is interesting to note is that after transplantation, the neurons migrated to the appropriate cortical regions of the tissue associated with visual acuity, metamorphosed, and took over the characteristics and functionalities of the lost or damaged cells that were associated with vision.

Scientists are excited at another finding from this experiment. They have discovered that the transplantation of the neurons set into motion a critical period of neural development in the mice. “Critical period” refers to a time period when there is maximum plasticity of the brain. Usually this period occurs in childhood. But this experiment shows that the critical period can also be induced in adulthood. In this experiment, the implantation of the neurons created a new “critical period” that corresponded to the time after the transplantation that the neurons took to integrate into the visual cortical system of the mice and acquire the characteristics of the relevant cells.

The results indicate that neural plasticity in adult human brains may also not be fixed and that they can change under the influence of chemical and physical factors. This revolutionary experiment has got scientists excited about the self-renewal and self-generation possibilities of the human “plastic” brain.

Neuronal transplantation as a cure for brain disorders

Researchers have long been wondering if neuronal transplantation can stem the advance of and/or reverse the effects of progressive neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), and schizophrenia. The scientists feel hopeful because diseases like PD are triggered by dysfunctional neuronal pathways or when there is loss of or damage to the neurons that hamper their ability to function normally.

PD is caused by a progressive loss of dopamine neurons in a specific part of the brain. Dopamine therapy is a standard treatment procedure for PD. According to the experimental findings reported in one study carried out on laboratory mice, fetal cells transplanted into the dopamine-deficient region of the brain can develop as fully-functional dopamine neurons to replace the lost or damaged cells and take on their functionalities. This can restore lost cerebral function and reduce the symptoms of PD in an animal case study.

Scientists have also carried out experiments to test the feasibility of this therapeutic approach on individuals afflicted with HD. In one experiment, two people with moderate HD were transplanted with fetal cells from the pre-basal ganglia region. These embryonic cells survived in the new environment and differentiated into the intended type of cell. But six years after the implantation, it was found that though the symptoms of the disease did not progress in the individuals, they were not cured either. Incidentally, the two patients who took part in the experiment survived 74 months and 79 months respectively after the transplantation.

Scientists have achieved some degree of success with neuronal transplantation in case of PD. On the other hand, the partial setback in the experiment on people suffering from HD indicates that they should continue to explore more sophisticated techniques of neuronal implantation and find out about the other factors (internal or external) that contribute to the success of the transplantation or the various developmental factors that trigger the creation of a critical period.

The limited amount of laboratory success of the neuronal transplantation procedure should not discourage scientists from searching for answers to the above problems. People are already hinging their hopes on this flicker of hope that the experiment to bring back vision in laboratory mice has brought them.


Davis, M., Figueroa Velez, D., Guevarra, R., Yang, M., Habeeb, M., Carathedathu, M., & Gandhi, S. (2015). Inhibitory Neuron Transplantation into Adult Visual Cortex Creates a New Critical Period that Rescues Impaired Vision Neuron, 86 (4), 1055-1066 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.062

Frank, S., & Biglan, K. (2007). Long-term fetal cell transplant in Huntington disease: Stayin’ alive Neurology, 68 (24), 2055-2056 DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000267703.35634.e1

Keene, C., Sonnen, J., Swanson, P., Kopyov, O., Leverenz, J., Bird, T., & Montine, T. (2007). Neural transplantation in Huntington disease: Long-term grafts in two patients Neurology, 68 (24), 2093-2098 DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000264504.14301.f5

Nguyen, J. et al. (2009). Neuronal Transplantation: A Review. Practical Handbook of Neurosurgery p.1574-1584.

Sowden, J. (2014). Chapter 4 – Restoring Vision to the Blind: Stem Cells and Transplantation Translational Vision Science & Technology, 3 (7) DOI: 10.1167/tvst.3.7.6

Image via vitstudio / Shutterstock.

Source: http://brainblogger.com/2015/06/28/neuronal-transplantation-may-restore-brain-functionality/

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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