Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spinal Cord Injury Reduced With Cells Transplanted From Adult Mice Brain Cells

Scientists at Toronto University and the Toronto Western Research Institute of Canada managed to reduce some of the paralysis of rats with spinal cord injury with cells transplanted from adult mice brain cells. This could eventually lead to treatment for humans with paralysis as a result of spinal cord injury.

If cells from the paralyzed human patient could be transplanted, we may eventually have an effective treatment. Dr. Michael Fehlings, lead researcher, said even some cells in the spinal cord itself could be used (rather than brain cells).

You can read about this research in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The scientists worked on 97 rats with spinal cord injuries. Brain cells from adult mice were implanted into the spinal cords of the rats at two and eight weeks after injury. The rats that received the brain cells two weeks after injury gained coordination on their hind legs and started to develop the ability to bear weight (on their back legs) - they did not start walking normally.

The rats that received the brain cells eight weeks after injury experienced no improvement in their paralysis. If this research eventually evolves into some kind of human treatment, it will have to be carried out soon after injury to the spinal cord.

Unlike previous experiments which managed to ease paralysis in laboratory animals, this research managed to do it with adult brain cells, rather than embryonic stem cells (or cells from fetuses). These adult brain cells, neural precursor cells, can only evolve into cells of the nervous system. Embryonic stem cells can turn into any kind of cell.

These adult mice brain cells, when implanted into the spinal cord, create a sheath (kind of insulation) around the nerve fibres - very much like the plastic insulation you find around electric cables in your home. People (and animals) with spinal cord injuries have defective sheaths (or areas where there is no insulation at all). By restoring the insulation, paralysis is eased (the person can started moving again).

By: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today