Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Spinal Cord Stem Cell Growth Long After Injury
The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, suggests there is a longer period of opportunity than previously thought to treat spinal cord injuries.
It is very difficult to heal damaged spinal cords and most studies have shown that any treatment attempt must take place within days after the injury to do any good.
But a team using StemCells Inc's nerve stem cells taken from aborted fetuses found that even a month after injury, the cells took up residence in the spine, proliferated and helped mice walk better.
The California-based company hopes to begin human tests of the cells in 2011.
The cells are a form of stem cell, the master cells of the body. These are technically adult stem cells, taken from the partly developed brains of fetuses and tested for qualities showing they are destined to form particular types of nerve cells.
Dr. Aileen Anderson of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues tested 37 mice, damaging their spinal cords surgically and then transfusing either the StemCells product, ordinary human skin cells or a placebo.
The cells migrated through the spine, grew and began to function, the researchers said. When tested for coordination, 64 percent of the stem-cell-treated mice walked better, compared to 44 percent of mice treated with ordinary cells and 20 percent of placebo-treated mice.
The report is available here