Restoration of Function by Cell Transplantation
Another major research effort at the Center focuses on strategies to remyelinate the demyelinated axons of the spinal cord by transplantation of myelin-forming cells into the site of lesion. It is now well established that following non-penetrating spinal cord injury, some axons still maintain continuity through the injury but fail to conduct as a result of damage to their myelin sheaths. Demyelination is a major cause of the symptoms seen in patients with multiple sclerosis and certain types of spinal cord injury.
The lipid-rich myelin sheath is produced by the surrounding Schwann cells in the peripheral nerves and by oligodendrocytes in the brain and spinal cord. We have used a variety of myelin forming cells including Schwann cells and olfactory ensheathing cells to successfully remyelinate the experimentally demyelinated axons of adult rat spinal cord. These remyelinated axons also recover their function as determined by electrophysiological recordings. In addition, we have demonstrated for the first time that human olfactory ensheathing cells can indeed remyelinate and restore conduction in demyelinated rat spinal cord. Current efforts are focussed on establishing the appropriate parameters to maximize the extent of remyelination using this strategy and on xenotransplantation using myelin-forming cells from transgenic pigs expressing human cell surface proteins. Our aim is to ultimately use engineered cells from transgenic animals in order to minimize tissue rejection and maximize tissue availability. We have also successfully demonstrated that axonal regrowth of transected spinal cord axons can be achieved by transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells and Schwann cells. The results of our preliminary cell transplantation studies are extremely encouraging and efforts are underway to explore the potential of this strategy in human clinical studies.
Playing fantasy head of the NMSS for a moment, I would be directing a large proportion of the resources available into research like this.
So, ok......to avoid any argument or hard feelings
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