ITALY – Milan. San Raffaele; Stem Cells Aid in the Regrowing of Nerves

(Stem Cells News image)

Facial Nerves
Image by rosefirerising via Flickr

A biopolymer could aid in the regrowing of nerves induced by the use of stem cells according to a new research project that gives hope to people who have been in an accident and have lost the use of one or more limbs. The procedure will enter into clinical testing in January after animal testing has been completed.
The Experimental Neurological Institute (INSPE), founded in 2005 at San Raffaele Hospital of Milan became operational with the inauguration of more than 1,200 square meters of lab space entirely dedicated to general and clinical research therapies for serious neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis, strokes, spinal trauma, and peripheral neuropathy.
Director Giancarlo Comi, the head of the Department of Neurology at San Raffaele said, “Until now, when trying to induce nerves to grow back we were using veins that had the defect of being empty internally.”

A new support, called a ‘scaffold’, is a biologically compatible cylinder (which will later dissolve), a sort of bioplastic, which scientists will try to use to regrow nerves using nerve stem cells with the appropriate growth factors.
“We are ready to start in January with about 20 patients,” said Comi underlining that “this type of translational research based on the rapid transfer of base studies to the patient, is possible only because of a great hospital like San Raffaele, which supports the INSPE, which with its new labs, researchers, and doctors, has become one of the major research centers entirely dedicated to neuroscience in Europe.”
Even large pharmaceutical producers like Merck-Serono look to the the INSPE, and are interested in developing a common research program dedicated to the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat multiple sclerosis.

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