Mayo Clinic research is learning how stem cell therapy can treat neurodegenerative diseases. Mayo is among the first to study whether stem cell therapy might trigger healing for spinal cord injury.
Research is ongoing in preclinical models, but it also has advanced from discovery science to early clinical trials. It's a complex question because different forms of stem cells can be derived from different biologics within the body. Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine is driving the research that seeks new ways to restore form and function for patients with debilitating injuries and diseases.
Stem cells for spinal cord injury investigated
In a recent article published in Spinal Cord, Mayo Clinic researchers found that rats with spinal cord injury have improved movement after applying stem cells. The authors hope this preclinical data will support the eventual development of regenerative therapy for spinal cord healing.
"Spinal cord injury affects many patients, and current treatments are often limited and supportive in nature," says Mohamad Bydon, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon and senior author of the paper. "This research is an opportunity to impact a significant disease that causes a great burden to so many patients."
When the spine is injured, the electrical signal it carries from the brain is stopped at the point of injury, and the patient experiences paralysis. Unlike skin or muscle cells, injured cells of the spinal cord, called "neurons," don't repair or replace themselves very quickly or at all, especially as the body ages. To see if the healing process could be jump-started, Dr. Bydon's team examined if the cells that help regenerate other tissues could help in the spine, as well.
Read the rest of the article in the Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.
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