Scientists use patients’ own stem cells to restore function after a spinal cord injury

Intravenous injection of bone marrow-derived gas cells (MSCs) in patients with spinal cord injuries has significantly improved motor functions, researchers from Yale University and Japan report on February 18 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology and Non-Surgery.

For more than half of the patients, major improvements in key functions – such as the ability to walk, or use the hands – were observed within weeks of gas cell injection, the researchers report. No significant side effects were reported.

The patients had persistent, non-throughgoing spinal injuries, in many cases from falls or minor trauma, several weeks before the stem cells were inserted. Their symptoms included loss of motor function and coordination, loss of consciousness, as well as bowel and bladder disorders. The stem cells were prepared from the bone marrow of the patients themselves, through a culture protocol that took a few weeks in a specialized cell processing center. The cells were intravenously implanted in this sequence, with each patient serving as their own control. The results were not blinded and there were no placebo controls.

Yale scientists Jeffery D. Kocsis, professor of neurology and neuroscience, and Stephen G. Waxman, professor of neurology, neuroscience and pharmacology, were senior authors of the study, conducted by researchers at Sapporo Medical University in Japan. Sapporo’s team’s principal investigators, Osamu Honmou and Masanori Sasaki, both hold professorship positions in neurology at Yale.

Kocsis and Waxman confirm that further studies will be needed to confirm the results of this initial, unrelated test. They also insist that this could take years. Despite the challenges, they remain optimistic.

Similar results with stem cells in patients with stroke increase our confidence that this approach may be clinically useful. This clinical study is the result of extensive preclinical laboratory work using MSCs between Yale and Sapporo colleagues over several years. “

Jeffery D. Kocsis, Yale scientist

“The idea that we may be able to restore function after brain and spinal cord injury using the patient’s own stem cells has been around for years,” said Waxman. now we think, in humans, that it could be. “


Magazine Reference:

Honmou, O., et al. (2021) Intravenous infiltration of autologous Mesenchymal autologous gas cells in patients with spinal cord injury: A series of 13 cases. Clinical and non-surgical neurology.