Nerve damage has always been thought of to be permanent. Now, recent studies show that stem cells are actually able to help the regrowth of nerve cells, and restore function to damaged areas. The discovery of stem cell ability to do this has not only stunned the scientific community, but in the years to follow will have a gargantuan effect on the diagnosis’ and treatments of many nerve related diseases.
Stem cells can be found throughout the body in numerous locations: Bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, and skeletal muscles. What make stem cells unique to other types of cells is there ability to replicate and evolve into different types of tissue. With this ability, scientists have taken stem cells to research them, hoping that one day that will be a common treatment for nerve damage, which currently is thought to be permanent.
A study from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine has recently tested the compatibility of stem cells to aid damaged nerve areas on mice. The study consisted of scientists injecting human muscle-derived stem cells into surgically created right sciatic nerve defects in mice, in charge of controlling movement in the right leg. The study found that six weeks post injection the mice that were treated with the human stem cells had recovered full nerve functionality, while the mice that were left untreated experienced limited nerve regrowth and functionality.
The process in which stem cells can be injected into a individual are as follows: Firstly, a hollow tube filled with stem cells is placed in the injured site. This is the most common, and most studied process of how to inject stem cells. There are alternative ways in which to do so which involve injecting the cells into hydrogel prior to inserting them into a hollow tube, but this method seems to be far more tedious and expensive, and not delivering the same results.
These findings can prove to be absolutely revolutionary to treatments for diseases such as MS and ADEM. As of now, patients diagnosed with MS know that they will have that disease for the rest of their life. Stem cells will now be able to be injected into the CNS to help regrow the damaged nerves. I believe that this is one of the most game-changing discoveries in science, altering the way we look at the nervous system as something that cannot be fixed once damaged.
What is your take on the recent discoveries of usage of stem cells? Post your thoughts, comments, or critiques in the comments.