This doesn't involve stem cells and looks like it could be an interesting alternative...further research required, as always.
Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration
Eurekalert - The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology to enhance the regeneration of nerve cells. In the first method, developed at the University of Miami, researchers show how magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used to create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons of the central nervous system neurons. The second method from the University of California, Berkeley uses aligned nanofibers containing one or more growth factors to provide a bioactive matrix where nerve cells can regrow.
It is known that injured neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) do not regenerate, but it is not clear why. Adult CNS neurons may lack an intrinsic capacity for rapid regeneration, and CNS glia create an inhibitory environment for growth after injury. Can these challenges be overcome even before we fully understand them at a molecular level "why axons in central nervous system do not regenerate"" Dr. Mauris N. De Silva describes the novel nanotechnology based approach designed that includes the use of magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic fields for addressing the challenges associated with regeneration of central nervous system after injury. "By providing mechanical tension to the regrowing axon, we may be able to enhance the regenerative axon growth in vivo". This mechanically induced neurite outgrowth may provide a possible method for bypassing the inhibitory interface and the tissue beyond a CNS related injury. Using optic nerve and spinal cord tissues as in vivo models and dissociated retinal ganglion neurons as an in vitro model, De Silva and his colleagues are currently investigating how these magnetic nanoparticles can be incorporated into neurons and axons at the site of injury. Although, this study is at a very preliminary stage to explore the possibility of using magnetic nanoparticles for enhancing in vivo axon regeneration, this work may have significant implications for the treatment of spinal cord injuries, and is a vital "next step" in bringing this new technology to clinical use.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/ ... 051707.php