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Combination therapy leads to partial recovery from spinal cord injury in rats

the cells visible. Some cells also received a gene called D15A. This gene produces a protein with activity similar to growth factors called neurotrophin 3 (NT3) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Both NT3 and BDNF help myelin-producing cells (oligodendrocytes) develop and survive.

Dr. Whittemore and his colleagues injected the treated precursor cells into the spinal cords of rats with a type of spinal injury called a contusion, which is caused by an impact to the spinal cord. Other groups of spinal cord-injured rats received just precursor cells, D15A gene therapy, or other treatments that were used for comparison. The rats were evaluated weekly for 6 weeks after the treatment using a behavioral test called the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan scale, which measures characteristics such as weight support, joint movements, and coordination. The researchers also used an electrical current test in which they put a magnetic stimulator on the skull and measured whether the resulting electrical current was transmitted to a muscle in one of the hind legs.

Most of the rats treated with the combination of precursor cells and gene therapy improved significantly on both tests, the researchers found. The combination therapy led to an improvement in the rats' ability to walk and about a 10 percent improvement on the electrical current test. Rats that received the other treatments did not improve significantly, and untreated rats did not have any electrical activity that passed through the damaged spinal cord. Studies of the damaged spinal cord tissue after the combined treatment showed that many of the transplanted cells survived and migrated within the cord and that about 30 percent of them developed into myelin-producing oligodendrocytes.

"The key word here is 'combination.' This is one of a series of new studies showing that a combination of therapies is needed for successful spinal repair, in this case, specialized cells and growth factors. The expe
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Source:NIH


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