Thousands of people worldwide suffer severe spinal cord injuries each year, but little is known about why these injuries often continue to deteriorate long after the initial damage occurs.
Yi Ren, a professor of biomedical sciences at the Florida State University College of Medicine, is making progress in understanding why such significant harm is inflicted in the weeks and months after a spinal injury. In a study published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Ren explained how a natural immune system response may contribute to additional injury.
The molecule inhibits adult axon regeneration, but appears to stimulate young neurons
Recovery after severe spinal cord injury is notoriously fraught, with permanent paralysis often the result. In recent years, researchers have increasingly turned to stem cell-based therapies as a potential method for repairing and replacing damaged nerve cells. They have struggled, however, to overcome numerous innate barriers, including myelin, a mixture of insulating proteins and lipids that helps speed impulses through adult nerve fibers but also inhibits neuronal growth.
A cell therapy intended to boost myelin regeneration — Q-Cells by Q Therapeutics — has received a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to proceed with a clinical trial in patients with transverse myelitis (TM), a disease that like multiple sclerosis is characterized by myelin damage.
FDA approval of the company’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application allows researchers to start a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in which nine patients will receive increasing doses of the treatment.