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September 2008 Off the Wire . . .



News Article 01raw

New Research Shows Progress Towards Reversing Nerve Damage

Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 15 Sep 2008
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.

"We know 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 system."

The full study is published in the September issue of Experimental Neurology.

About Krembil Neuroscience Centre

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 conditions

Krembil Neuroscience Centre

About University Health Network

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 Network

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