Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Repairing Spinal Cord Injury With Dental Pulp Stem Cells

One of the most common causes of disability in young adults is spinal cord injury. Currently, there is no proven reparative treatment. Hope that a stem cell population, specifically dental pulp stem cells, might be of benefit to individuals with severe spinal cord injury has now been provided by the work of Akihito Yamamoto and colleagues, at Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan, in a rat model of this devastating condition.

In the study, when rats with severe spinal cord injury were transplanted with human dental pulp stem cells they showed marked recovery of hind limb function. Detailed analysis revealed that the human dental pulp stem cells mediated their effects in three ways: they inhibited the death of nerve cells and their support cells; they promoted the regeneration of severed nerves; and they replaced lost support cells by generating new ones. Yamamoto and colleagues therefore hope that this approach can be translated into an effective treatment for severe spinal cord injury.

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