The researchers discovered that when suspended in fluid and snorted, stem cells migrate quickly to the brain, arriving within an hour in most cases. Researchers initially tested the procedure on mice, having them sniff adult rat stem cells suspended in solution. An hour later, the inhaled stem cells were visible within the brain. Testing a second time using stem cells from a human tumor, the cells again migrated straight to the brain, also within an hour's time.
The stem cells likely reach the brain by way of the olfactory nerves, which give us our sense of smell. Fluid-filled spaces surrounding blood vessels that pass from the nose to the brain are also a likely conduit. Only 584 of 300,000 cells reached the brain initially, but researchers found that when they added an enzyme called hyaluronidase that makes connective tissue more permeable, the number of cells that reached the brain nearly tripled.
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