Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have successfully reprogrammed a glial cell type in the central nervous system into new neurons to promote recovery after spinal cord injury -- revealing an untapped potential to leverage the cell for regenerative medicine. The group of investigators published their findings March 5 in Cell Stem Cell. This is the first time scientists have reported modifying a NG2 glia -- a type of supporting cell in the central nervous system -- into functional neurons after spinal cord injury, said Wei Wu, PhD, research associate in neurological surgery at IU School of Medicine and co-first author of the paper. Spinal cord injuries affect hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, with thousands more diagnosed each year. Neurons in the spinal cord don't regenerate after injury, which typically causes a person to experience permanent physical and neurological ailments. When the spinal cord is injured, glial cells, of which there are three types -- astrocyte, ependymal and NG2 -- respond to form glial scar tissue.
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The neuroscientist changing the meaning of spinal cord injury | E&T Magazine
There are no definitive treatments yet for spinal cord injury. However, ongoing research to test new therapies is progressing rapidly. Drugs to limit injury progression, decompression surgery, nerve cell transplantation and nerve regeneration, as well as nerve rejuvenation therapies, are being examined as potential ways to minimize the effects of spinal cord injury. The biology of the injured spinal cord is enormously complex but clinical trials are underway with more coming; hope for restoring function after paralysis continues to rise, and for good reason. Still, paralysis from disease, stroke or trauma is considered one of the toughest of medical problems. To be sure, scientific progress is a slow but steady march.
Published Friday, January 22, This could be merely the first step towards transforming how we conceive these injuries. Several years before, he had suffered a spinal cord injury during a trampolining accident which left him paralysed from the waist down.
Toll-Free U. Your gift of Ability affects everything we do every day at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab — from the highest-quality clinical care and groundbreaking research to community programs that improve quality of life. Philanthropic support truly drives our mission and vision. The SCILS measures health behaviors that delay or prevent the development of secondary impairments in patients with spinal cord injury. Instrument Details.