Research from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, published online ahead of print in Stem Cells and Development, shows that adult human mesenchymal stem cells may have an important role in the treatment and repair of spinal cord injuries. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found mainly in the bone marrow and are the focus of many clinical trials that investigate potential methods of neurological repair and other regenerative applications.
“Although mesenchymal stem cells are widely known to be used in replacing damaged tissue, these stem cells may also recruit endogenous cells (those made within the body) to help accelerate the repair process,” said Hatem E. Sabaawy, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a senior author of the study. “The immune suppressive properties of mesenchymal stem cells suppress the inflammatory process during injury repair.”
For the first time, researchers at UMDNJ examined the use of human MSCs to prompt repair of spinal cord injuries in transgenic (genetically engineered or altered) zebrafish embryos. Zebrafish are especially valuable to researchers due to invertebrate characteristics that are similar to those of humans, the transparency of their bodies and their ability to initiate regeneration of damaged tissue. The study demonstrates that human MSCs affix to the injury site and influence spinal cord cells to accelerate the repair process.
“Our results indicate that MSC therapy not only augments recovery after spinal cord injury, but also accelerates the recovery time,” said Pranela Rameshwar, PhD, a senior author and professor of medicine at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
Reference: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School