Discovery Offers New Hope to Repair Spinal Cord Injuries

By Dana G. Smith, PhD / Gladstone News / April 24, 2017

Todd McDevitt (right), Jessica Butts (center) and Dylan McCreedy (left) created a special type of neuron from human stem cells that could potentially repair spinal cord injuries. [Photo: Chris Goodfellow, Gladstone Institutes]


Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes created a special type of neuron from human stem cells that could potentially repair spinal cord injuries. These cells, called V2a interneurons, transmit signals in the spinal cord to help control movement. When the researchers transplanted the cells into mouse spinal cords, the interneurons sprouted and integrated with existing cells.

V2a interneurons relay signals from the brain to the spinal cord, where they ultimately connect with motor neurons that project out to the arms and legs. The interneurons cover long distances, projecting up and down the spinal cord to initiate and coordinate muscle movement, as well as breathing. Damage to V2a interneurons can sever connections between the brain and the limbs, which contributes to paralysis following spinal cord injuries.

“Interneurons can reroute after spinal cord injuries, which makes them a promising therapeutic target,” said senior author Todd McDevitt, PhD, a senior investigator at Gladstone and a professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF. “Our goal is to rewire the impaired circuitry by replacing damaged interneurons to create new pathways for signal transmission around the site of the injury.”

Several clinical trials are testing cell replacement therapies to treat spinal cord injuries. Most of these trials involve stem cell–derived neural progenitor cells, which can turn into several different types of brain or spinal cord cells, or oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, which create the myelin sheaths that insulate and protect nerve cells. However, these approaches either do not attempt or cannot reliably produce the specific types of adult spinal cord neurons, such as V2a interneurons, that project long distances and rebuild the spinal cord.

Read the FULL News Article at the Gladstone Institute LINK

PNAS Abstract LINK

ABSTRACT VIDEO

This entry was posted in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Research, Neuroscience Abstracts, Regenerative Medicine, Spinal Research, Stem Cell Research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Discovery Offers New Hope to Repair Spinal Cord Injuries

  1. Gregory Allport says:

    Clinical trials? I volunteer.

    • christalpowell says:

      Not yet, but we’ll keep an eye on the progress being made in the McDevitt Lab and report back here when we find out more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s