August 18, 2014

Umbilical cord blood stem cells could be a vital factor in treating motor-neuro diseases in the future. The idea of utilizing stem cells to create spinal cord tissue is not a new concept in the field of spinal cord research, however, actually making it happen has been just out of reach for researchers for years. Until now, that is.

Scientists of the Medical Research Council at the University of Edinburgh have announced a new innovation in spinal cord research in which they are able to duplicate the natural development process of spinal cord tissue in a lab1. They have discovered a way to grow spinal cord “seed” cells in a petri dish from stem cells.

Neuro-mesodermal progenitors (NMPs) cells are responsible for the spinal cord, muscle and skeleton development during the normal growth process of an embryo. In this study, researchers closely examined the developmental progression of an embryo and then, using the stem cells of both mice and humans, were able to copy this chemical process and transform the stem cells into NMPs and then spinal cord cells. Though stem cells have been used in the lab to grow many different types of bone, muscle and nerve cells, this is the first time NMP cells have been created by researchers using stem cells.

This discovery lends promise for future treatments of motor-neuro diseases of the bone, muscle or spinal cord, including muscular dystrophy, through transplants of these new lab-grown, composite, tissues. This is also exciting news in the field of umbilical cord stem cells, which could potentially have a role in this type of therapy in the future. This type of stem cell research is still in the very early stages, but with more successful studies and trials, researchers are hopeful that it will be groundbreaking in the future treatments of many debilitating, and sometimes fatal, neuro-muscular and motor-neuro diseases. They are hoping to discover the cellular origins of these diseases by studying the cells of a person afflicted with one of these diseases and comparing how the cells differentiate from healthy cells.

This is one more thing to be hopeful about when banking your baby’s cord blood. Cord blood banking provides your child, and possibly other family members, with access to stem cells that can be used when needed for any future health problems that may arise. To help secure a healthy future for your child and your family is the gift that lasts a lifetime.

Breakthrough in spinal cord research could lead to eventual motor neurone disease cure, The INDEPENDENT; Cooper, Charlie. Published online August 26, 2014. Found online: http://goo.gl/oF5vv6

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