Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Scientists discover stem cells can repair spine tissue

Monday, April 03, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

More postive news is coming out of Canada where the University of Toronto has been carrying out research involving the use of adult stem cells to repair damaged spinal tissue in rats and help them move again.

The latest research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, could offer new hope to paralysed patients. The team said the technique appeared to work best in the two weeks after the spinal cord was injured.

It has long been hoped that stem cells could hold the key to treating severe disability as well as serious illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. In the latest research Dr Michael Fehlings and colleagues from the University of Toronto took stem cells from the brains of rodents.

These cells were labelled with a fluorescent marker, allowing the scientists to trace the cells after they were transplanted into the rats' crushed spines. Using a cocktail of growth factors and immune-supressing drugs, the stem cells transplanted up to weeks after the initial injury survived in the spine.

The scientists found that more than one-third of the transplanted cells travelled along the spinal cord and were incorporated into the damaged tissue. These cells developed into the type of tissue that was destroyed at the injured area and were able to produce myelin - an insulating layer around nerve fibres that transmits signals from the brain. When the spinal cord is injured it loses the ability to regenerate myelin-forming cells, which leads to paralysis.

Dr Fehlings found that where the stem cells restored myelin in the injured spine, the rats showed some recovery and were able to walk with more co-ordination.

Dr Oswald Steward, director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Centre for Spinal Cord Injury at the University of California, welcomed the study. "These cells can be caused to differentiate into the types of cells that are useful for repairing the damaged spinal cord," he said.

The above article can be found on 'The Scotsman's website.


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