Brain Stem Cells

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Federal regulators have approved what would be the first transplant of fetal stem cells into human brains.

The recipients will be children who suffer from Batten disease, a rare, fatal genetic disorder. If it succeeds, the procedure could open the door to treating a host of neural disorders.

Some of the brain cells to be implanted will be from aborted fetuses, but aren't embryonic stem cells, which are derived from days-old embryos. Instead, the cells are immature neural cells that are destined to turn into the mature cells that makeup a fully formed brain.

The Food and Drug Administration says doctors at Stanford University Medical Center can begin testing on six potential transplant candidates. But an internal Stanford review board must still approve the test, a process that could take weeks.