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A new mixture for recovery


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Previous lab experiments ruled out that neural stem cells and neural progenitor cell grafts promote functional recovery in experimental spinal cord injury models. In fact, they can integrate in the lesion site and latch themselves into the existing, damaged neuronal circuits. Although successful, these treatments promote only partial functional recovery.
The team of Dr. Tuszynski (San Diego, USA) decided to test whether rehabilitation could augment this improvement. Something that has been assumed, but never been proven so far.

Anatomical and functional recovery
For this study, a more severe type of spinal cord injury was selected. More importantly, the neural progenitor cell grafting was done in a chronic model, combined with an intense rehabilitation program. Scientists found that only the group that received both stem cell grafts and rehabilitation showed an anatomical and functional recovery. Careful evaluation revealed that the combined treatment promotes corticospinal axon regeneration into the grafts.

In this context, rehabilitation seems to enhance the therapeutic effect of the stem cell transplantation. It might promote a greater regeneration and stabilize useful synapses.
In the end, this combination promises a greater reconstruction of the damaged neural circuits.

This study was published in the journal JCI Insight and was supported by Wings for Life.

Source: Lu P, Freria CM, Graham L, Tran AN, Villarta A, Yassin D, Huie JR, Ferguson AR, Tuszynski MH. Rehabilitation combined with neural progenitor cell grafts enables functional recovery in chronic spinal cord injury. JCI Insight. 2022 Aug 22;7(16):e158000. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.158000. PMID: 35993363; PMCID: PMC9462483.

You can find out more on the spinal cord and the influence of its damage on the human body in our basic-information. Wings for Life Glossary gives an understanding of scientific terms.