Friday, July 23, 2010

Cord Blood Stem Cells Treat Spinal Cord Injury in Animal Study

A study published this month in the journal Spine, found that stem cells from a human newborn umbilical cord can improve neurologic function of rats after an acute spinal cord injury.

The rats treated in the study with cord blood stem cells experienced a significantly improved recovery of locomotor function (the ability to move from place to place) over a six week period compared to untreated rats. In addition, six weeks after treatment, the injured area was noticeably smaller in the treated animals than in the untreated animals.

Most spinal cord injuries are compression injuries, in which the damaged nerve cells in the spinal cord are still intact, but have lost a coating called myelin that helps them transmit signals from the brain to the rest of the body, leaving them nonfunctional. Lost myelin does not regularly grow back on its own following an injury, and so the goal of this study was to determine if cord blood stem cells could help initiate its regeneration in rats with compression injuries to the spinal cord.

Research to date has shown increasing evidence that stem cells from cord blood have the ability to help with repairing and regenerating other cells in the body by helping to regulate inflammation, assisting with the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and promoting cellular growth by secreting proteins and other growth factors.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that supports the therapeutic use of cord blood stem cells for nerve repair.