Scientists at Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University say they’ve made a breakthrough in treating cerebral palsy – on a microscopic level, at least.
Researchers claim they’ve found a way to replicate so-called “myelinating cells” – cells with the essential protein myelin – in a way that benefits humans.
“The ability to produce functional cells that restore myelin in mice…provides a solid framework to produce analogous human cells,” said Robert Miller, vice-dean for research at the Case Western Reserve Medical School.
“Myelin” is a layer of protein that coats nerve cells called “neurons.” Myelin helps facilitate communication between cells, and is largely absent in the neurons of those with cerebral palsy. A lack of myelin – or “nerve damage” – often results in loss of coordination and cognitive function.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve manipulated diseased mouse cells using hormones and growth factors. In just 10 days, the cells had begun to produce myelin.
Based on their findings, scientists believe that future human stem cell transplants might help CP sufferers. The transplants, they believe, would induce cells to begin making more myelin.
An article about the study was published in the September online issue of Nature Methods.