Lab rats with spinal cord injuries have been treated with adult stem cells to reverse their paralysis according to a new study.
So-called progenitor stem cells were transplanted from the lining of other rats’ spinal cords into rodents with serious spinal cord injuries for the study, headed by Miodrag Stojkovic, the deputy director and head of the Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory at Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe in Spain.
LiveScience reports that one week after injury the rats had recovered significant motor activity, according to Stojkovic and his co-authors writing in the journal Stem Cells.
There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury, a major cause of paralysis. Most spinal cord injuries are suffered by males, and are caused by vehicle crashes and falls.
The new rat results “open a new window on spinal cord regenerative strategies” say the researchers.
Embryonic stem cells have caused controversy, mainly with American Christians, partly because these cells are derived from embryos though a process that currently destroys them.
However the rat study involved adult stem cells, found in adult tissues.
The US Food and Drug Administration last week approved the first study to inject human-derived embryonic stem cells into individuals with acute spinal cord injuries.
Progenitor stem cells in the adult human spinal cords implies stem cell-associated mechanisms might be able to repair human spinal cord injuries.
“The human body contains the tools to repair damaged spinal cords. Our work clearly demonstrates that we need both adult and embryonic stem cells to understand our body and apply this knowledge in regenerative medicine,” said Mr Stojkovic.