Stem cells within the spinal cord that could differentiate into more healing cells and fewer scarring cells following an injury, have been identified.
The researchers at MIT and the Karolinska Institute found that neural stem cells in the adult spinal cord are limited to a layer of cube- or column-shaped, cilia-covered cells called ependymal cells. These cells make up the thin membrane lining the inner-brain ventricles and the connecting central column of the spinal cord.
“We have been able to genetically mark this neural stem cell population and then follow their behavior,” Meletis said. “We find that these cells proliferate upon spinal cord injury, migrate toward the injury site and differentiate over several months.”
According to the scientists, if these cells can be regulated and genetically manipulated to to produce more myelinlinks and less scar tissue after a spinal cord injury, this may lead to a new, non-surgical treatment for debilitating spinal-cord injuries.