Manipulating embryo-derived stem cells before transplanting them may hold the key to optimizing stem cell technologies for repairing spinal cord injuries in humans. Research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Biology, may lead to cell based therapies for victims of paralysis to recover the use of their bodies without the risk of transplant induced pain syndromes.
Dr. Stephen Davies, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, reported that in collaboration with researchers at the University of Rochester, NY his research team has transplanted two types of the major support cells of the brain and spinal cord, cells called astrocytes. These two types of astrocytes, which are both made from the same embryo-derived stem cell-like precursor cell, have remarkably different effects on the spinal repair process.
Using signal molecules known to be involved in the generation of embryonic astrocytes during spinal cord development, the researchers were able to make pure cultures of two different types of astrocytes from the GRP cells.
When Dr. Davies and his team transplanted these two types of astrocytes into the injured spinal cord, they had dramatically different effects. One type of astrocyte called GDAsBMP was remarkably effective at promoting nerve regeneration and recovery of limb motion when transplanted into spinal cord injuries. However, the other type of astrocyte cell generated called GDAsCNTF, not only failed to promote nerve fiber regeneration or functional recovery but also caused neuropathic pain, a severe side effect that was not seen in rats treated with GDAsBMP.
"To our knowledge, this is the first time that two distinct sub-types of astrocyte support cells generated from a common stem cell-like precursor cell have been shown to have robustly different effects when transplanted into the injured adult nervous system," co-author Dr. Mayer-Prosch
|Contact: Graeme Baldwin|