Researchers at UTHealth have demonstrated in rats that transplanting genetically modified adult stem cells into an injured spinal cord can help restore the electrical pathways associated with movement. The results are published in today’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
In spinal cord injury, demyelination, or the destruction of the myelin sheath in the central nervous system, occurs. The myelin sheath, produced by cells called oligodendrocytes, wraps around the axons of nerves and helps speed activity and insulate electrical conduction. Without it, the nerves cannot send messages to make muscles move.
The research team, led by Qilin Cao, M.D., principal investigator
Scientists have identified a way of prompting nerve system repair in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Studies on rats by Cambridge and Edinburgh University researchers identified how to help stem cells in the brain regenerate myelin sheath, needed to protect nerve fibres.
MS charities said the “exciting” Nature Neuroscience work offered hope of restoring physical functions.
But they cautioned it would be some years before treatments were developed.
MS is caused by a defect in the body’s immune system, which turns in on itself, and attacks the fatty myelin sheath.
It is thought to affect around 100,000 people in the UK.
Around 85% have the relapsing/remitting form
Sir Martin Evans
Stem cells could aid in treating muscular sclerosis. Animal experiments have demonstrated that it is possible to stop the aggressive, chronic inflammatory response against the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells, whose destruction leads to the devastating effects of the disease, said Giancarlo Comi, the head of the Experimental Neurology Institute of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University. A three-day meeting, which began in Stresa, on the most recent progress regarding stem cells was opened by Nobel Prize winner Martin Evans and also included some of the most important experts on the subject in the