Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Stem cell implant regrows axons in monkeys with spinal cord injury

Rhesus Macaque.jpg

 Image of a rhesus macaque by ’13bobby’ via Wikimedia Commons

 

A new study published yesterday in Nature Medicine, presents research showing that grafting human neural stem cells into the spine of rhesus monkeys with recent spinal cord injuries improves the animal’s ability to grasp oranges. The researchers found that grafted stem cells matured into neurons (image below) that began connecting with the monkey’s existing neurons.

Image of neuronal axons (arrows) extending from a human neural stem cell graft. IMAGE COURTESY OF M. TUSZYNSKI 

This was the first time this type of research was performed in primates and may thus open the door for this type of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases in humans. Although more research is needed to determine the most appropriate type of stem cells and the type of injuries this treatment may work best for before testing in humans.

 

Sources:

Categories: Comparative Physiology

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