"New animal research brings increasing hope for sufferers of spinal cord injury," says Oswald Steward, PhD, of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine. "Studies are beginning to invalidate one of the longest held 'truths' in medicine--that nerve cells of the spinal cord are not able to regrow once damaged."
New research shows that a special type of cell transplanted into injured rat spinal cord forms myelin-the insulating material around nerves that speeds conduction of nerve impulses-and improves rats' functioning, according to Masanori Sasaki, MD, Jeffery Kocsis, PhD, Karen Lankford, PhD, and Micheas Zemedkun, BS, in the department of neurology at Yale University School of Medicine.
Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are specialized glial cells found in nerves and brain tissue associated with the sense of smell. Nerve cells within the olfactory tissue in the nose divide throughout life and send new axons-or nerve fibers-to transmit smell sensations to the brain. Scientists have long thought that OECs assist the normal regeneration of these axons and guide them into the brain where they make new functional connections. Because axons lose myelin after a trauma such as spinal cord injury, scientists have explored using OECs as a possible treatment. Several clinical trials to study transplantation of OECs into spinal cord injury patients are either ongoing or in the planning stages.
The Yale researchers obtained OECs from the olfactory bulbs of adult transgenic--genetically altered--rats expressing green fluorescent protein and transplanted them into other rats' spinal co
Contact: Leah Ariniello
Society for Neuroscience