Legal Review: New Hope for Spinal Cord Injury Victims

Dr. Victor Hayes is a board certified spine surgeon who practices within the state of Florida. Dr. Hayes has an extensive educational background, as well as he is trained in both endoscopic and reconstructive spine surgery.  

A promising new discovery has been made by Gladstone Institutes scientists which could bring new hope to victims of spinal cord injuries. Scientists used human stem cells to create a new neuron which may be able to repair damaged spinal cords.

Named V2a interneurons, the cells transmit signals to the spinal cord in order to assist in controlling movement. Results of the study have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Normally, these interneurons send signals to the spinal cord from the brain, connecting with motor neurons that enable us to move our limbs. These interneurons also are part of the breathing process.

When V2a interneurons are damaged as a result of a spinal cord injury, the signal between brain and limbs is severed, causing paralysis.

In order to produce the V2a interneurons from human stem cells, researchers were able to come up with a “cocktail of chemicals” that eventually led to the stem cells developing from spinal cord progenitor cells to V2a interneurons. These interneurons were then transplanted into spinal cords of healthy mice.

When this was done, the interneurons sprouted and integrated with existing cells. Especially critical to the research was that the mice still moved normally after the transplant and there were no signs of impairment.

The study team said they plan on taking this research to the next level by transplanting V2a interneurons into mice with damaged spinal cords to see if movement can be restored.

According to national statistics, there are about 300,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the U.S., with more than 15,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries that occur each year.

The two most common causes of these injuries are motor vehicle accidents, which are responsible for approximately 40 percent of injuries, and falls, which cause about 30 percent of spinal cord injuries every year.

Spinal surgeon Dr. Victor Hayes commented, “this is certainly an exciting breakthrough and one I hope ushers in a new increased focus on treating catastrophic spinal injuries.”

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