For the first time researchers at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, Toronto
Western Hospital have successfully transplanted adult spinal cord stem cells
into mice and rats to produce the protective cover, known as myelin, which is
necessary to insulate the nerves in the central nervous system.
that patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis or experience spinal cord
injuries can lose the ability to produce myelin," said lead researcher Dr.
Andrea Mothe, Krembil Neuroscience Centre. "By successfully transplanting cells
that will produce myelin this shows great progress towards potentially reversing
the devastating effects of disease and injury caused by the loss of myelin."
Myelin provides the covering or insulation for nerves, which is
necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses and protects the nerve.
Without myelin, impulses become slower and the nerves themselves are damaged. As
more nerves are affected, a patient can experience progressive interference with
functions that are controlled by the nervous system such as vision, speech,
walking, and memory.
Scientists believe stem cell therapy is a promising
approach for remyelination. This study showed that transplanted cells from the
adult rat spinal cord can replace the lost myelinating cells and produce new
myelin around the nerve fibers (axons).
"With continued research in this
area we will one day be able to take this knowledge out of the lab and directly
to patients," said Dr. Charles Tator, Krembil Senior Scientist and co-author of
the study. "With every breakthrough and positive study we become closer and
closer to battling spinal cord injuries and diseases that affect the nervous
The full study is published in the September issue of
Experimental Neurology. About Krembil Neuroscience
The Krembil Neuroscience Centre (KNC), located at Toronto
Western Hospital, is home to one of the largest combined clinical and research
neurological facilities in North America. Since opening in 2001, KNC has been
recognized as a world leader through its research achievements, education and
exemplary patient care. The centre focuses on the advancement, detection and
treatment of neurological diseases and specializes in movement disorders,
dementias, stroke, spinal cord injury, blinding eye diseases, epilepsy and
cancer-related conditionsKrembil Neuroscience CentreAbout University Health
University Health Network consists of Toronto General,
Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals. The scope of research and
complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and
international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the
largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in
cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation,
infectious diseases, and genomic medicine. University Health Network is a
research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. University Health