Brains get stiff with age just like muscles and joints, causing problems in the brain stem, research indicates. Picture: Max Pixel

London - Brains get stiff with age just like muscles and joints, causing problems in the brain stem, research indicates.

But scientists have returned older stem cells to a younger, healthier state, offering potential new treatments for dementia and multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute in the UK studied rat brains to understand the impact of age-related stiffening on cells in the nervous system.

These cells are vital for brains, and for the formation of myelin – fatty sheath around nerves damaged by MS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Age contributes to such conditions, but these cells decline in healthy people as well. Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning.

WATCH: When does your brain stop developing?

Dr Kevin Chalut said in Nature journal: "When the old brain cells were grown on the soft material, they began to function like young cells."

WATCH: Learn the ageing process of the brain

Daily Mail