Bone Marrow Cell Transplants Help Nerve Regeneration

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2007) — A study carried out by researchers at the Kyoto University School of Medicine has shown that when transplanted bone marrow cells (BMCs) containing adult stem cells are protected by a 15mm silicon tube and nourished with bio-engineered materials, they successfully help regenerate damaged nerves. The research may provide an important step in developing artificial nerves.
“We focused on the vascular and neurochemical environment within the tube,” said Tomoyuki Yamakawa, MD, the study’s lead author. “We thought that BMCs containing adult stem cells, with the potential to differentiate into bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, or neuronal cells, could survive by obtaining oxygen and nutrients, with the result that rates of cell differentiation and regeneration would improve.”
Nourished with bioengineered additives, such as growth factors and cell adhesion molecules, the BMCs after 24 weeks differentiated into cells with characteristics of Schwann cells — a variety of neural cell that provides the insulating myelin around the axons of peripheral nerve cells. The new cells successfully regenerated axons and extended their growth farther across nerve cell gaps toward damaged nerve stumps, with healthier vascularity.
“The differentiated cells, similar to Schwann cells, contributed significantly to the promotion of axon regeneration through the tube,” explained Yamakawa. “This success may be a further step in developing artificial nerves.”
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