Spinal cord injury and adult stem cells (MSC’s)…

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Interesting research article this morning out of Shaghai on how bone marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells improve nerve regrowth and reduce the size of the spinal cord lesion in 8 week old spinal cord injuries. It’s important to note that these are 8 week old injuries, not chronic injuries.  At this point there are a few research articles on how MSC’s can help repair damaged spinal cords.  In this paper, they go further into how that might work.  In this study, BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and GDNF (Glia Derived Neurotrophic Factor) were produced by the MSC’s to help in spinal cord repair. These growth factors help the injured spinal cord nerve cells fix themselves.   This is consistent with many other studies in other areas of tissue repair where MSC’s act as what I call, “Bob the Builder” cells.  In essence, they act as a general contractor in producing growth factors and coordinating the repair response, making many other cell types do the heavy lifting.  While we don’t treat spinal cord injury (we have our hands full learning advanced regenerative orthopedics), this is exciting news for many other clinics (mostly in China) that do treat these injuries and for patients dealing with the horror of paraplegia and quadraplegia.

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