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Use of stems cells to treat spinal injury shows promise in study

There are many injuries that could occur as a result of an accident. Those that impact the spine are often particularly devastating and could result in someone being unable to use his or her limbs ever again. Researchers are continually working to change the fate of those in this situation via a variety of approaches.

Last month we wrote about advancements being made in the use of robotic limbs to allow those suffering from a spinal injury to walk again. In this post we will cover another approach that is being taken—the use of stem cell treatments.

The results of a study, which focused on the use of stem cell treatments in primates suffering from spinal injuries, were recently published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

In the course of the study neural stem/progenitor cells from marmoset monkey embryonic stem cells, were grafted into the same type of animals that had spinal cords that were moderately bruised. The stem cell injections, which were introduced two weeks following the injury, showed promise.

Specifically, as compared to the control group that was not injected with stem cells, there was a significant improvement in motor function for those that did receive stem cells.Among other things one of the animals that received the stem cells was able to run and jump while another in the control group could not raise its hands to the height of its head. 

Though this technique was not tested on humans, the hope is that it someday will play a role in the treatment of spinal injuries, along with pharmacological therapy and rehabilitation.

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