While trying to find a cure for traumatic spinal cord injuries, researchers are using stem cells to help regenerate the damaged spinal cord tissue. To complete the regenerative process, they use so called “signal proteins” to induce the stem cells into grouping together at the site of the injured tissue and to stick there for the duration of the regenerative process. However, since the body absorbs these “signal proteins” too fast for the regenerative process to be concluded, scientists have created devices that act as a “scaffold” that helps hold these stem cells in place for the duration of the regenerative process.
One of these so called “scaffold” devices was developed at Northwestern University and consists of a nano-filament formed by small bits of proteins that glue themselves together spontaneously. This “scaffold” is then used to attach the “signal proteins” (and therefore, the stem cells) to the injured area. After the regenerative process is over, the nano-filament scaffold breaks down and is absorbed by the body, leaving behind only the regenerated tissue.
Transformation of Cord Blood Cells
After more than 20 years of using cells taken from the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth to treat illnesses that range from cancer to immune disorders, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have figured a way to use a type of protein, called transcription factor, to convert cord blood (CB) cells into neuron-like cells that may help treat a myriad of neurological conditions, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
Using these transcription factor proteins, researchers have been able to transform cord blood cells (which come from the middle layer of embryonic germ cells) into ectodermal cells or outer layer cells from which the cells of the brain, the spine and the nerves originate. A very important part of this new discovery is that while such cell conversions have been accomplished in the past, this is the first time it is done on a single transcription factor. In the past, several transcription factors were necessary to convert skin cells into neurons.
The brain directs most other functions of our body through electrical signals. Once the brain suffers an injury, the neurons that generate those electrical impulses die. Consequently, scientists are trying to find ways of regenerating those lost neurons by using stem cells, more specifically (and successfully) stem cells from cord blood. To prompt the regeneration process in this case, scientists used a transcription factor called Sox2, which acts as a switch that develops CB cells into neurons. After culturing these cells in a lab, they discovered colonies of cells expressing neuronal markers. Using a variety of tests, they determined that the new cells, called induced neuronal-like cells (iNC), could transmit electrical impulses, which meant that the cells were mature and functional neurons. Moreover, these researchers transplanted the Sox2-infused CB cells to the brain of a mouse and discovered that the cells integrated into the neuronal network of the mouse and more importantly, were capable of transmitting electrical signals like mature functional neurons.
The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help
If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park or any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Car Accidents Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have represented victims of spinal cord injuries resulting from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, accidents at an amusement park or any other kind of accident caused by someone else’s negligence recover the compensation that may be owed to them.
Our attorneys have more than 67 years of combined experience helping accident victims. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today to schedule a free consultation.