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Schwann Cell Transplant Study Shows Promise in Axon Regeneration and Improved Function Post-SCI

research23Transplanting self-donated Schwann cells (SCs) in a rat model of spinal cord injury (SCI) may show promise in hind limb recovery, according to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The university reportedly carried out the recent study for “The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.”

Mary Bartlett Bunge, PhD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, states that while a variety of cell transplantation strategies have been developed to nullify the lesion environment following spinal cord injury, “scar tissue—in basil lamina sheets—wall off the lesion to prevent further injury and also, at the interface, scar tissue impedes axon regeneration into and out of the grafts, limiting functional recovery.”

In the current study, researchers state that the properties of a spinal cord/Schwann cell bridge interface enable regenerated and elongated brainstem axons to cross the bridge and potentially lead to an improvement in hind limb movement of spinal cord injured rats.

Using electron microscopy, researchers say they found that axons, SCs, and astrocytes were enclosed together within tunnels bounded by continuous basal lamina. The expression of neuroglycan (NG2) was linked with the tunnels, the study notes. Ultimately it was determined that a “trio” of astrocyte processes, SCs, and regenerating axons were “bundled” together within the tunnels of basal lamina, the researchers add.

In the study’s conclusion, the researchers state they demonstrated that the “elongation of astrocyte processes into SC transplants, and the formation of NG2+ tunnels, enables brainstem axon regeneration and improvement in function. This study supports the clinical use of SC s for SCI repair and defines important characteristics of permissive spinal cord/graft interfaces.”

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Source: Medical News Today