Will stem cell therapies be safe and effective for treating spinal cord injuries?
A large number of different cells, including embryonic and adult stem cells, have been transplanted into animals with SCI, and in many cases these procedures have resulted in modest sensorimotor benefits. This review article examines some of the publically available preclinical evidence that some of these cell types improve outcome in animals with SCI. Transplantation of many different types of stem and progenitor cells acutely after SCI enhances spontaneous recovery of function in animals. The common mechanism(s) of this enhanced recovery of function are not well understood, although a range of possibilities are usually cited (including preservation of tissue, remyelination, axon sprouting, glial cell replacement). There is no agreement about the best cell type for transplantation. Transplantation of cells into animals with a long lifespan is important to determine whether or not tumors will eventually form. It will also be important to determine whether long-term survival of cells is required for functional recovery.
Thomas KE, Moon LD.
Br Med Bull. 2011;98:127-42.
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