Skip to comments.Stem cells from brains help rats walk, study says
Posted on 04/02/2006 9:32:33 PM PDT by Coleus
Washington, Mar 30: Stem cells harvested from the brains of mice can restore some walking ability in laboratory rats with spinal-cord damage, Canadian scientists reported on Tuesday.
The findings are the latest success in rodent experiments to improve movement using a type of stem cell, an immature cell that can turn into different cells and tissues. Researchers hope to eventually test stem-cell therapies in people who are paralyzed and help them walk again.
In the new study, scientists took cells known as neural precursor cells, a type of stem cell that has started turning into a central nervous system cell, from mouse brains.
The researchers injected the cells into rats that could no longer walk after their spines were crushed, and gave them immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection. The cells migrated to the spinal cord, merged into the injured tissue and developed into cells that produced myelin, the insulating layer around nerve fibers that transmits signals to the brain. Many patients with spinal cord damage have intact nerve fibers at the point of injury but no myelin, causing paralysis.
While the rats did not return to normal, they "recovered significant walking ability. They had better coordination of their joints and better ability to support their weight," said Dr. Michael Fehlings, a neurosurgeon at the Krembil Neuroscience Center at Toronto Western Research Institute. The research was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
I may have missed something, but it does not say if the stem cells are adult or embryonic.
I'm not too sure. Many news reporters are skirting the issue. They are probably embryonic since it would be dangerous to stick a needle into the brain of a healthy mouse or human to extract cells.
"In the new study, scientists took cells known as neural precursor cells, a type of stem cell that has started turning into a central nervous system cell, from mouse brains.
"The researchers injected the cells into rats that could no longer walk after their spines were crushed, and gave them immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection."
They used immune-suppressing drugs, so my guess is that they killed the same species of rats and disected and processed tissue for the neural precursor cells.
Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, Medical Director of the Krembil Neuroscience Program