X-Message-Number: 27778
From: "Basie" <>
Subject: Stem cells restore movement 
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 14:57:01 -0500

Stem cells restore movement
Last updated: Thursday, March 30, 2006
Paralysed rats who received transplants of adult mouse brain stem cells were 
able to partially restore limb movement, researchers said in Wednesday's 
issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Called neuronal precursors, the stem cells from the brains of adult mice are 
able to transform themselves into cells of the central nervous system and 
other tissues.

The researchers said they were hopeful the technique could in coming years 
lead to new treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

A team of Canadian researchers from the Krembil Neuroscience Centre in 
Toronto injected stem cells from adult mice brains into rats whose spines 
had been crushed. The stem cells migrated to the damaged area and changed 
into myelin-producing cells.

Made of lipids and proteins, myelin forms an insulating layer around nerve 
fibres that transmits signals from the brain.

Recovered significant walking ability
While the injured rats did not walk again, "they recovered significant 
walking ability. They had better co-ordination of their joints and a better 
ability to support their weight," said Michael Fehlings, one of the leading 
researchers of the study.

"This work breaks new ground by showing that therapeutically useful stem 
cells can be derived from the adult brain of rodents, and that these cells 
can be caused to differentiate into the types of cells that are useful for 
repairing the damaged spinal cord," said Osvald Steward, director of the 
Reeve-Irvine Research Centre for Spinal Cord Injury at the University of 

Similar techniques in humans?
Fehlings said he hoped similar techniques could be tested in humans in five 
or ten years, after more animal research is carried out.

He said neuronal precursors could be extracted with a needle from the area 
of the human brain where stem cells reside. These cells, in turn, could be 
injected near the damaged area of the spinal cord.

Fehling said half spinal cord injury sufferers could benefit from the 
treatment as long as enough nerve cells remained intact even without their 
myelin covering.

The researchers also found in their experiments with mice and rats that 
transplanting stem cells to the injured spine is most efficient if done up 
to two weeks after the initial injury.

One focus of future research, they said, will be to determine the reason why 
stem cells transplanted weeks or months later fail to function or sometimes 
even survive. - (Sapa-AFP)

Visit our Genetics Centre for more information.

March 2006

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=27778