Michael J. Fox and other sufferers of degenerative neurological diseases rejoice! Japanese scientists at the government-backed research institute Riken have created the first functioning human brain tissues from stem cells, the first step in curing everything from strokes to multiple sclerosis to paralysis. Even better, there may be a chance that these tissues could come from non-embryonic stem cells, which means its research could possibly be continued in the U.S. as well.
Creating actual tissue instead of just cells is an important step since tissue transplants have a better chance of stimulating greater functional recovery in patients. For the moment, Riken researchers are still getting most of their newly minted cerebral cortices from embryonic cells, a big moral and ethical moral battleground over here. But the researchers said that they had harvested some from "induced pluripotent stem cells," artificially made cells from adult cell cultures - like skin. If so, hopefully one of the last hurdles to growing brains has fallen. [Japan Today]