News of the WeekSTEM CELLS

Rat Spinal Cord Function Partially Restored

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Science  03 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5446, pp. 1826-1827
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5446.1826

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In the December issue of Nature Medicine, a team of neurologists reports restoring partial mobility to rats whose hindlimbs had been paralyzed by blows to their spinal cords by injecting the animals with immature nerve cells derived from mouse embryonic stem cells. What's more, because the rats were treated 9 days after they were injured, the results suggest that stem-cell therapies might someday lead to treatments for the hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide with spinal cord injuries they received long ago. The researchers do not yet understand how the transplants worked, however; and until they do, it will be hard to improve upon the results.