Stem cells can reverse spinal cord injuries in animals

January 29th, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 29 (IANS) Stem cells from spinal cord lining, transplanted into animals with spinal injury, regenerated 10 times faster in recipients than similar cells derived from healthy control animals.The findings show that transplanted cells, known as ependymal stem cells, were found to proliferate after spinal cord injury and were recruited by the specific injured area.

Spinal cord injury is a major cause of paralysis, and the associated trauma destroys numerous cell types, including the neurons that carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

In many spinal injuries, the cord is not actually severed, and at least some of the signal-carrying nerve cells remain intact. However, the surviving nerve cells may no longer carry messages because oligodendrocytes, which comprise the insulating sheath of the spinal cord, are lost.

The regenerative mechanism discovered was activated when a lesion formed in the injured area. After a lesion formed in the transplant subject, the stem cells were found to have a more effective ability to differentiate into oligodendrocytes and other cell types needed to restore neuronal function.

“The human body contains the tools to repair damaged spinal cords. Our work clearly demonstrates that we need both adult and embryonic stem cells to understand our body and apply this knowledge in regenerative medicine,” said Miodrag Stojkovic, co-author of the study. He heads the Cellular Reprogramming Lab at Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe in Valencia, Spain, said a Cellular Lab release.

The study was published in Stem Cells.

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