Genetically modified human umbilical cells could be a treatment for spinal cord injuries

Genetically modified human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells have been shown to increase the number of Schwann cells in a murine model with spinal cord injuries. The results could lead to regenerative medicines for spinal cord injuries.

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Jul 09, 2018
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Researchers from Kazan Federal University and Kazan State Medical University (both Kazan, Russia) have discovered that genetically modified human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells can increase the number of Schwann cells in murine models with spinal cord injuries. The research was recently published in Stem Cells International.

Previously, the researchers had shown that using cell and gene therapy can improve the structure of the spine after spinal cord injury.

"In particular, VEGF and GDNF genes, which possess strong neuroprotective and neurotrophic properties, were used. These genes, or, more precisely, the proteins coded by them, can protect neurons and have a supportive influence on them. Thus, umbilical cord blood cells serve as transporters of therapeutic genes and a sort of mini bio plants of recombinant biologically active proteins in injured areas," commented  group head Yana Mukhamedshina (Kazan Federal University).

In the current study, the researchers discovered that an increase in the number of Schwann cells was responsible for the improvement in the structure of the spinal cord in the murine models used. The Schwann cells participated in myelin production which helped with the improved structure.

The results may serve as the basis for gene and cell medications applicable to not only spinal cord injuries but other demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Sources: Galieva LR, Mukhamedshina YO, Akhmetzyanova ER et al. Influence of Genetically Modified Human Umbilical Cord Blood Mononuclear Cells on the Expression of Schwann Cell Molecular Determinants in Spinal Cord Injury. Stem Cells Int. 2018:4695275(2018); https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/kfu-nmo030618.php

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Adam Tarring

Commissioning editor, Future Science Group

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