Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury

Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury
Credit: Thinkstock

Stem cells are considered promising agents for the recovery of spinal cord injuries. European scientists explore their abilities and plan future therapeutic strategies.

remain without any specific therapy. Despite initial optimism from trials, neuroprotective molecules and poorly defined stem cells have not provided satisfactory controlled therapies.

The European project 'From stem cell technology to functional restoration after spinal cord injury' (Rescue) explored the ability of human stem cells to treat spinal cord damages. For that purpose, neural and non-neural stem cells were selected and evaluated in a rat model of spinal cord injury.

Resident stem cells in human and rodent spinal cord were successfully characterised. This achievement initiated a new long-term objective of the investigation of their fate in healthy and damaged rodent spinal cord.

A primary objective of Rescue was to decipher the safety of grafting adult from human biopsies. The experiments showed the formation of tumours from these grafts; therefore, novel optimised strategies are required.

Human neural precursor-derived were successfully differentiated showing promising results regarding axonal growth on collagen scaffolds. In addition, the adipose stromal stem cells performed better than the classical bone marrow preparation. Rescue scientists extensively examined the abilities of these cells in different scaffolds.

Rescue scientists worked intensively on the regulation of , especially regarding cell orientation and sorting. were targeted to the cells using different viral vectors. The vectors with the best conditions regarding proliferation ability and phenotype were selected for further transplantation studies. A novel was developed that might be suitable for clinical applications. Furthermore, the Rescue consortium created conditionally immortalised neural stem cell lines with very promising features.

The impact of Rescue's achievements in the field of stem cell-based therapies of damages and in particular of spinal cord injuries is significant. It was thoroughly demonstrated that stem cells intrinsic to the human spinal cord are a potential source of therapeutic cells and factors. Future research may focus on a comprehensive in detail characterisation of its phenotypes.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cells used to reverse paralysis in animals

Jan 28, 2009

A new study has found that transplantation of stem cells from the lining of the spinal cord, called ependymal stem cells, reverses paralysis associated with spinal cord injuries in laboratory tests. The findings show that ...

Damaged spinal cord tissue repaired by stem cells

Oct 08, 2010

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have shown how stem cells, together with other cells, repair damaged tissue in the mouse spinal cord. The results are of potential significance to the development of therapies for spinal ...

Study: Spinal cord can repair itself

Feb 14, 2007

U.S. scientists say they have disproved the long-held theory that the spinal cord is incapable of repairing itself. The Johns Hopkins University researchers say human nerve stem cells they transplanted into damaged spinal ...

Recommended for you

User comments