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Stem cell breakthrough brings peripheral nerve injury treatment closer to reality

Washington, Jan. 10 : A team of researchers has successfully rescued peripheral nerves in the upper arms of a patient suffering peripheral nerve damage by using skin-derived stem cells (SDSCs) and a previously developed collagen tube designed to successfully bridge gaps in injured nerves in rat models.


"Peripheral nerve repair with satisfactory functional recovery remains a great surgical challenge, especially for severe nerve injuries resulting in extended nerve defects," study's corresponding author Dr. Yvan Torrente, of the Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation at the University of Milan, said.

"However, we hypothesized that the combination of autologous (self-donated) SDSCs placed in collagen tubes to bridge gaps in the damaged nerves would restore the continuity of injured nerves and save from amputation the upper arms of a patient with poly-injury to motor and sensory nerves," the researcher said.

Although autologous nerve grafting has been the 'gold standard' for reconstructive surgeries, these researchers felt that there were several drawbacks to that approach, including graft availability, donor site morbidity, and neuropathic pain.

According to the researchers, autologous SDSCs have advantages over other stem cells as they are an accessible source of stem cells rapidly expandable in culture, and capable of survival and integration within host tissues.

Over three years, the researchers followed up on the patient, assessing functional recovery of injured median and ulnar nerves by pinch gauge test and static two-point discrimination and touch test with monofiliments along with electrophysiological and MRI examinations.

Dr. Camillo Ricordi from the University of Miami said this single case study provides the first step towards a proof-of-principle for a new treatment for peripheral nerve injury.

The study will be published in journal Cell Transplantation.

--ANI (Posted on 10-01-2014)

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