【Current status of neurological disorders and potential of stem cell treatment】
About 5,000 new patients per year are said to suffer from the after-effects such as motor paralysis after spinal cord injury caused by accidents.
There is no effective treatment for damaged central nerves at present because, once damaged, it is considered to never recover itself. Therefore the patients are highly likely to suffer pain for all their lives, and it has given rise to another problem such as increasing costs of medical care and social security.
For healing neurological injuries, clinical studies that aimed to regenerate injured central nerves by administrating bone marrow-derived autologous mesenchymal stem cells have received increasing attention. Autologous stem cell treatment is anticipated to be applied for various neurological disorders.
【Institutes conducting with animal experiments or clinical trials】
◆ Sapporo Medical University ◆ Hiroshima University
◆ Kansai Medical University ◆ Osaka University
◆ Geron (USA) ◆ St. Marianna University School of Medicine
◆ Nagoya University ◆ Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine
【Case : Institute of Sapporo Medical University】
A clinical trial aimed at evaluating the effects and safety of the autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell treatment has been conducted in patients with spinal cord injury (within 14 days after injury) and aged 20 to 64 years old.
Stem cells have a feature termed “homing” to migrate themselves to the damaged tissues/organs in the body. The migrated stem cells secrete various factors that cure and protect nerves and relieve inflammation, and it has been reported that these factors recover from spinal cord injury in the acute phase. Moreover, it is considered that stem cells themselves differentiate into nerves in a few weeks to regenerate.
Since the stem cell treatment has been reported to improve motor function in spinal cord injured animal models, improvement of motor function such as moving arms and legs of patients can be expected in the clinical trials.