A new study shows that stem cell technology developed by an Ohio company holds some promise in treating spinal cord injury. Athersys, a Cleveland-based company developing non-embryonic stem-cell therapies, might have found another use for its MultiStem technology, already being studied for use against blood cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome and stroke.
A joint study between Athersys and Case Western Reserve University "demonstrates for the first time that an adult stem cell is capable of modifying multiple aspects of the wound response following a spinal cord injury," Jerry Silver a professor in Case's Department of Neurosciences, said in a news release.
The researchers, who present their findings in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, administered Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells (MAPC) following spinal cord injury in rodents, prevented the retraction of neurons, reduced inflammation in the area of injury, and promoted the regrowth of neurons.
"Our results demonstrate that MAPC convey meaningful therapeutic benefits after spinal cord injury and provide specific evidence that these adult stem cells can exert both positive immunomodulatory and neurotrophic influences," Silver said. Gil Van Bokkelen, Athersys' CEO, said the results provide "further validation of MultiStem as an emerging stem cell therapy with broad potential for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including the often devastating and seemingly irreversible after-effects of spinal cord injury."
It will take a little while for us to find out, though. There will need to be much more research before the possible spinal cord treatment could move from mice to men.