Page 13 - Mobility Management, February 2018
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                                                                “Smell” Cells Could Help Nerve Regeneration After SCI
A new study out of the University of Bristol showed that nerve regener- ation following spinal cord injury could be facilitated by cells from the body’s olfactory — aka, sense of smell — system.
A research team led by Dr. Liang- Fong Wong and Dr. Nicholas Granger from Bristol’s Faculty of Health Sciences “successfully transplanted genetically modi ed cells that secrete a treatment molecule shown to be effective at removing the scar following spinal cord damage,” according to a December news announcement. “The scar in the damaged spinal cord typically limits recovery by blocking nerve regrowth.”
The team’s previous work used olfac- tory ensheathing cells and genetically modi ed them so the cells secreted chondroitinase ABC (ChABC), a treat- ment enzyme capable of breaking down spinal cord injury scars and promoting regrowth of nerves.
While ChABC has been shown by other studies to be effective treat- ment, researchers discovered that the enzyme degrades quickly once it’s injected into a spinal cord injury and subjected to body tempera- tures. Because of that, the treat- ments would need to be repeated.
In the new study, researchers combined administration of ChABC with the genetically modi ed olfac- tory ensheathing cells that secrete ChABC. After those cells were transplanted into rodents with spinal cord injuries, researchers observed ChABC being successfully secreted, and the resulting removal of some spinal cord injury scars.
“This led to increased nerve sprouting in the spinal cord, sugges- tive of successful nerve regeneration following the treatment,” the news
announcement said.
Subsequent steps would include
observing and evaluating functional recoveries as a result of the treatments.
Said Wong, “While these initial results look promising, in order to determine
the longer-term survival of our genetically modi ed cells and assess functional recovery, such as recovery of walking or recovery of continence, we need to carry out further studies to test these cell transplants in more chronic injury models.” m

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