Richard Lerner and his team at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, have discovered an antibody that can change stem cells (taken from bone marrow) into brain cells.
According to USNews.com, stem cells from bone marrow usually turn into white blood cells, but when a certain antibody was injected, the stem cells turned into neural cells, which are found in the brain and spine.
The researchers discovered the method accidentally, according to a report published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lerner and his team were originally trying to find an antibody that would stimulate the growth of stem cells, but also found one that created neural cells.
According to Lerner, the antibody could be injected directly into the bloodstream of a sick patient, find its way to the bone marrow and change some bone marrow stem cells into neural progenitor cells, reported ScienceDaily.com.
"Those neural progenitors would infiltrate the brain, find areas of damage and help repair them," said Lerner.
"There's been a lot of research activity where people would like to repair brain and spinal cord injuries. With this method, you can go to a person's own stem cells and turn them into brain cells that can repair nerve injuries."
"We're going to collaborate with people who are trying to regenerate nerves in the eye," added Lerner. "We will team up with a couple people strong in that area of research."