For this study, nine of 16 rats with induced spinal cord ischemia were injected with human spinal stem cells 21 days after paralysis. The other seven were injected with medium that contained no stem cells. The recovery of motor function was evaluated in seven-day intervals, showing a progressive recovery of ambulatory functions in the rats that received stem cells.
Three of the nine rats injected with hSSCs returned to walking at six weeks, and three others had improved mobility in all lower extremity joints. All nine animals grafted with hSSCs achieved significantly better motor scores than those in the control group, and showed a consistent presence of transplanted cells in the spinal area. In all the rats grafted with the stem cells, the majority of transplanted human spinal stem cells survived and became mature neurons, according to Marsala. A second study was conducted over a three-month period, with similar results.
“Other human stem cell transplants in the spinal cord have focused on repairing the myelin-forming cells,” said co-author Karl Johe, a researcher at Neuralstem, the company that manufactures the hSSCs used in the study. “In this study, we succeeded at reconstructing the neural circuitry, which had not been done before.”
The researchers believe that the therapy may eventually be proven even more effective in human patients, who would be able to receive physical therapy once treated.
“Physical therapy may accelerate integration of the grafted stem cells and enhance their therapeutic benefit,” Johe said, adding that the goal is to provide a significant gain in functional mobility of the patient’s legs.
This study builds on Marsala’s previous work in rat models using human neuronal stem cells, publishe
Source:University of California - San Diego