Disabled mice regained the ability
to walk less than two weeks after receiving human neural stem cells
multiple sclerosis, the body's immune system attacks the
myelin sheath that covers and insulates nerve fibers in the
spinal cord, brain and optic nerve.
With that insulation gone, the nerves short-circuit and
malfunction, often compromising the patient's ability to walk – among other
the U Utah study (which was begun at the University of California, Irvine) human
neural stem cells were grown in a Petri dish, then injected
into the afflicted mice. The cells were grown under
less crowded conditions than is usual, which reportedly resulted in their
being "extremely potent."
early as one week after being injected, there was no sign of the cells in the
animals' bodies – evidence that they had been rejected, as
was assumed would happen. Within 10 to 14 days, however, the mice were
walking and running. After six months, they still hadn't
was reportedly due to the fact that the stem cells emitted chemical signals that
instructed the rodents' own cells to repair the damaged myelin. Stem cells grown
under the same conditions have since been shown to produce similar results, in
tests performed by different laboratories.
Additional mouse trials are now planned to assess the safety and durability of
the treatment, with hopes for human clinical trials down
the road. "We want to try to move as quickly and carefully as possible,"
said Dr. Tom Lane, who led the study along with Dr. Jeanne Loring from the
Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. "I would
love to see something that could promote repair and ease the burden that
patients with MS have."
paper on the research was recently published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
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