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Bone Marrow May Help Repair Damaged Nerve Cells

June 27, 2003 Hilary Waldman The Hartford Courant The Cincinnati Post
( Original article no longer exists)

Scientists at Yale think cells from bone marrow may be able to repair nerve cells.

The research is very new and there are many obstacles. Safety testing in humans could begin within a year.

"The beauty of the potential use of bone marrow is you don't have to go into the brain to remove nerve (stem) cells," said Dr. Jeffery Kocsis, associate director of the Neuroscience and Regeneration Research Center of Yale University.

Kocsis and his colleagues have already transplanted stem cells from adult bone marrow into rats. This has been able to generate much regrowth in critical nerve cells.

In MS, the person's immune system destroys the myelin (the fatty insulation that covers the nerves) . When this happens, nerves cannot send messages properly thoughout the body.

Dr. Timothy Vollmer, chairman of neurology at the Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz., and one of the nation's leading MS researchers, called bone marrow stem cell transplantation among the most "attractive" approaches to repairing damaged nerve linings.

He said the potential in bone marrow may cut 10 years off the time it may take to develop a safe, practical and effective way to restore function in people disabled by MS.

Meanwhile, more intense physical therapy and recently discovered nerve cell growth factors may offer the most immediate hope for restoring function in MS patients.

While it has long been known that nerve cells naturally find new routes around damaged pathways, restoring function, Vollmer said he believes that more intensive physical rehabilitation combined with the growth factors will make the recovery more efficient.

Those approaches will be important while researchers work around the ever-unfolding complexities of nerve regeneration.

Distributed by L.A.Times-Washington Post News Service

Text of fax box follows:

Yale research

In healthy people, there seems to be an understanding between myelin coating and nerve cells that too much myelin is not a good thing.

Yale scientists have identified a protein that seems to signal myelin to stop growing when the correct amount has formed around the nerve.
Submitted  8/27/2003 8:12:58 PM