New Brunswick, NJ – Research from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, published online ahead of print in Stem Cells and Development (http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/scd.2011.0179), shows that adult human mesenchymal stem cells may have an important role in the treatment and repair of spinal cord injuries. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found mainly in the bone marrow and are the focus of many clinical trials that investigate potential methods of neurological repair and other regenerative applications.
“Although mesenchymal stem cells are widely known to be used in replacing damaged tissue, these stem cells may also recruit endogenous cells (those made within the body) to help accelerate the repair process,” said Hatem E. Sabaawy, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a senior author of the study. “The immune suppressive properties of mesenchymal stem cells suppress the inflammatory process during injury repair.”
For the first time, researchers at UMDNJ examined the use of human MSCs to prompt repair of spinal cord injuries in transgenic (genetically engineered or altered) zebrafish embryos. Zebrafish are especially valuable to researchers due to invertebrate characteristics that are similar to those of humans, the transparency of their bodies and their ability to initiate regeneration of damaged tissue. The study demonstrates that human MSCs affix to the injury site and influence spinal cord cells to accelerate the repair process.
“Our results indicate that MSC therapy not only augments recovery after spinal cord injury, but also accelerates the recovery time,” said Pranela Rameshwar, PhD, a senior author and professor of medicine at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
The research was supported by grants from the FM Kirby Foundation, the Foundation of UMDNJ and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
About UMDNJ-ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON MEDICAL SCHOOL
As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,800 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. To learn more about UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, log on to rwjms.umdnj.edu. Find us online at www.Facebook.com/RWJMS and www.twitter.com/UMDNJ_RWJMS.
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