For the first time a gel, injected directly into the brain, has shown that it is capable of regenerating cells in the nervous system damaged as the result of a stroke. For now the result has only been achieved on animals, by researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles (USA), but the initial results inspire confidence in a possible application also to humans.

As researchers reported in the journal Nature Materials, the gel used contained pro-angiogenetic and anti-inflammatory substances (i.e. favourable to the formation of new blood vessels). In addition, the gel possessed physical and chemical properties that facilitated the construction of an effective structure for the creation of new tissue. The combination of all these elements created a micro-environment capable of facilitating neuronal regeneration, which is often impossible, or in any case very rare. Sixteen weeks after treatment on animals – explain researchers – the brain cavities that are normally formed following a stroke, containing non-vital scar tissue, were full of veins and nervous tissue composed of interconnecting cells: something that had never been seen before. In addition, the animals showed an improvement in their search for food, a parameter that demonstrates motor rehabilitation and therefore the recovery of nervous cells.

It is not yet completely clear how the gel manages to distribute the synthesis of new nervous cells, but researchers will continue to study the phenomenon, in the hope that this mix will soon be able to be tested on humans.