Rats once paralyzed from complete surgical cuts through their spinal cords can walk again after stem cells were transplanted into the site of the injury, report researchers today in the journal Cell. The results suggest that stem cells might work as a treatment for patients even if they have completely severed cords, a potential therapy that has been viewed skeptically by many in the field.
Neural stem cells, derived from aborted fetal spinal cord tissue, were implanted onto each side of the spinal cord injury in the rats along with a supportive matrix and molecular growth factors. The human stem cells grew into the site of injury and extended delicate cellular projections called axons into the rats spinal cord, despite the known growth-inhibiting environment of the injured spinal cord. The rats’ own neurons sent axons into the transplanted material and the rats were able to move all joints of their hind legs.
The cells are produced by a Rockville, Maryland company called Neuralstem. The same cells are also being tested in ALS patients (see “New Cells for ALS Patients”) where they have shown some promise of stabilizing the progressive disease. Last month, the company announced that it has asked to FDA to approve a trial to test the cells in spinal cord-injured patients.
Researchers are currently testing neural stem cells from a Newark, California-based company called StemCells Inc, in spinal cord injured patients; two of the three patients have reported the recover of some sensation (see “Human Stem Cells Found to Restore Memory” for an overview of the company).
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.