Neural stem cells help mice with chronic spinal cord injury walk again

Human neural stem cells transplanted
into mice grew into neural tissue
cells, such as oligodendrocytes.
Brian Cummings / UCI

A study published last week by CIRM grantees at UC Irvine gives a big ray of hope to people living with spinal cord injuries. Brian Cummings and Aileen Anderson showed that human neural stem cells could restore some mobility to mice with induced spinal cord injuries. According to a press release from UC Irvine:

The UCI study, led by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, is significant because the therapy can restore mobility during the later chronic phase, the period after spinal cord injury in which inflammation has stabilized and recovery has reached a plateau. There are no drug treatments to help restore function in such cases.

Other stem cell strategies for treating spinal cord injury, including the trial by Menlo Park, CA-based Geron, focus on the period of time immediately following injury.

In this latest work, three months after the stem cell treatment the mice showed consistent improvements compared to untreated mice.

The release quotes Aileen Anderson as saying:

“This study builds on the extensive work we previously published in the acute phase of injury and offers additional hope to those who are paralyzed or have impaired motor function.”

This seems like a good time to quote Roman Reed, the namesake of the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act and founder of the Roman Reed Foundation: “Turning stem cells into cures.” This paper is one more step toward that goal that we all share.

PLoS ONE, August, 19, 2010
CIRM funding: Desiree Salazar (T1-00008)