Science Times: Stem Cell Transplantation Helps Alleviate Spinal Cord Injury Sequelae in Mice

In the long history of human disease and injury, spinal cord injury (SCI) has persisted as an entity to be feared. Mortality remained high into the 1900s, and while modern treatments have reduced SCI mortality, we have not yet developed effective therapies for various sequelae of these injuries. Even with prompt treatment, SCI victims suffer a number of unbearable conditions not limited to paralysis. Among these, bladder dysfunction and neuropathic pain have proven particular burdens for already troubled patients.1 To address these conditions, a multidisciplinary team based at the University of California, San Francisco, has recently investigated the effect of administering therapeutic interneuron precursors following SCI in a rodent model.2 As previous research shows that rodent-derived precursors from the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) enhance GABAergic signals in the brain and spinal cord, this study extends those findings to assess whether similar precursors derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC-MGEs) are equally potent.

Using established protocols, hESCs were successfully converted to MGE-like cells. Differentiation was confirmed at 2 to 3 weeks and 5 to 6 weeks by standard genetic and immunohistochemical markers. Following 6 to 8 weeks of differentiation, cells were isolated for transplantation. Cells with the highest expression of markers indicating GABAergic and inhibitory function were identified and preferentially selected for use.

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