Apparently, now that they've gotten neurons (original adult, not fetal) to regenerate in the test tube, the new idea is to put them back in, thus curing Parkinson's and the like. A considerably more complex procedure is envisioned for treating spinal cord injuries and epilepsy.
> Human Brain Cell Transplantation Study
> Aims To Reverse Nerve And Brain
> LOS ANGELES (December 29, 1998) -- While growing cells in
> petri dishes has been done for more than a century, this old
> technique is being applied in ground-breaking new ways, and
> with space-age equipment, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's
> Neurofunctional Surgery Center. The goal is to produce cures for
> such previously incurable conditions as spinal cord injuries,
> stroke, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease. Using molecular
> biology technology, scientists have developed specialized
> neuronal cells ready to be transplanted for certain neurological
> The project was sparked by the recent discovery of human brain
> cells' potential for regeneration, contradicting previous
> scientific assumptions. "While it is true that brain cells don't
> regenerate in situ, we have found that a very small number of
> brain cells, harvested and placed into a special environment,
> can be stimulated to regenerate, and that regeneration
> continues when the cells are re-introduced into the brain," says
> neurosurgeon Michel Levesque, M.D., Director of the
> Neurofunctional Surgery Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
> Dr. Levesque's partner in the work is Toomas Neuman, Ph.D.,
> Director of Neurobiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The
> two are working to culture a number of carefully targeted brain
> cells from a patient, stimulating the cell's growth and
> regeneration in a regulated environment. They will then
> re-introduce the cells into the patient, where the goal is for
> growth to continue, effecting healing and repairing damaged
> brain tissue.
> The current plan involves selective cell harvesting and
> implantation to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as
> Parkinson's Disease. An infinitely more complex protocol for
> treating stroke and spinal cord injuries is in development.
> This protocol will involve identifying, growing and
> re-introducing a complex mixture of cells to restore damaged
> neural circuitry. For example, in treating epilepsy patients who
> require surgery, a small piece of the cortex -- where some of
> the few brain cells capable of regeneration are located - is
> removed. The cells are frozen and stored in a cell bank of
> neurons until it is time to grow them in petri dishes.
> Dr. Levesque is the lead surgeon and growth stimulation is
> under the direction of Dr. Neuman. The cells are removed and
> placed in a special environment to stimulate growth and
> division. "The cells don't spontaneously regenerate in the body
> -- that's why certain types of brain injuries and illnesses are
> currently incurable or irreparable," says Dr. Neuman. "Our
> eventual goal is to be able to stimulate the cells without
> removing them first."
> A variety of molecular biology tools is used to identify and
> stimulate the cells. The growing cells, which require a sterile,
> biologically stable environment, are placed in incubators -- like
> baby incubators. They are then placed in a special bath that
> includes different growth factors. Both the stable environment
> and the bath containing the growth factors are required.
> Dr. Levesque and Dr. Neuman are collaborating with
> NeuroGeneration, a new biotechnology firm in Los Angeles,
> which is providing the cells. Funding for this research was
> supported in part by the Spinal Cord Society.
-- firstname.lastname@example.org Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://pobox.com/~sentience/AI_design.temp.html http://pobox.com/~sentience/sing_analysis.html Disclaimer: Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you everything I think I know.