UC San Diego researchers successfully created stem cells that could have clinical applications in spinal cord injury and disorder treatments, the university announced Monday.
Spinal cord neural stem cells created from human pluripotent stem cells could advance to human clinical trials in three to five years after their efficacy is proven in rodent and primate studies, according to UCSD.
Thus far, grafting the cells into the spinal cords of injured rats has proven to innervate structures, allow corticospinal regeneration and extend axons.
“In grafts, these cells could be found throughout the spinal cord, dorsal to ventral. They promoted regeneration after spinal cord injury in adult rats, including corticospinal axons, which are extremely important in human voluntary motor function. In rats, they supported functional recovery,” said postdoctoral scholar Hiromi Kumamaru.
The stem cells can also be used in modeling and drug screening for spinal cord-affecting disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy, hereditary spastic paraplegia and spinocerebellar ataxia, all of which are associated with progressive deterioration of gait, hand and eye movement, according to UCSD.
The achievement, described in the August 6 online issue of Nature Methods, advances not only basic research like biomedical applications of in vitro disease modeling, but may constitute an improved, clinically translatable cell source for replacement strategies in spinal cord injuries and disorders.
In recent years, much work has been done exploring the potential of using hPSC-derived stem cells to create new spinal cord cells needed to repair damaged or diseased spinal cords. Progress has been steady but slow and limited.
In their new paper, first author and postdoctoral scholar Kumamar and senior author Mark Tuszynski, professor of neuroscience and director of the UC San Diego Translational Neuroscience Institute, and colleagues describe creating a cell line that appears to significantly advance the cause.
— City News Service
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