December 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Each year, thousands of people in the U.S. suffer spinal cord injuries. These injuries most often occur in car accidents and, unfortunately, the effects are generally irreversible.
In recent years, medical researchers have touted the use of stem cell therapies as a possible means of reversing the effects of spinal cord injuries
. Although a single therapy has not emerged as a cure, a recent survey published in the journal PLOS Biology indicates that stem cell therapies are effective and deserve further study.
The basic idea behind stem cell therapies is to use cells with specific regenerative properties to repair damaged portions of the spinal cord. If the spinal cord is repaired, then it should allow a patient to regain the abilities to move and feel lost as a result of injury.
Currently, most studies of stem cell therapies are conducted on small groups of mice, rats and other animals. As a result, scientists' ability to extrapolate their findings to human patients is somewhat limited. The recent PLOS Biology study sought to get around some of the basic limitations of previous research by carefully analyzing just over 150 stem cell studies.
The authors discovered that stem cell treatments do, in fact, impact patients' changes of regaining motor and sensory function. Overall, the use of these therapies resulted in a 25 percent improvement in test subjects. It seems, too, that the improvement of sensory abilities shows what doctors call a dose response. This means that sensory ability seems to increase as the number of cells used in the therapy increases. This dose response is significant because it indicates that the introduction of stem cells is, indeed, working.
The authors were surprised with several of their findings. First, it seems that female animals typically did not experience as significant an improvement in sensory ability as male animals. Second, despite the belief that the body's immune system plays a role in exacerbating some neurological injuries, it does not seem that administering immunosuppressive therapies resulted in better outcomes.
The purpose of the PLOS Biology survey was not to prove that stem cells are the best therapy for those who have suffered a spinal cord injury. Rather, the authors wanted to demonstrate that we still have a great deal to learn about the use of stem cells and further studies may provide essential information about the development of new treatments. Learning more about how these therapies may work may greatly improve patients' lives.
Article provided by Stamatakis + Thalji + Bonanno
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