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Stem cells treatment for Spinal Cord Injury


With the recent increasing approach of stem cells therapy, it is possible to treat many degenerative conditions, such as spinal cord injury; for which conventional medicines had no cure. In this regard, stem cells therapy has been referred to as an alternative therapeutic approach; targeting at the regeneration of lost cells, like axons in case of spinal cord injury that has been damaged due to accident or other traumatic injury. Clinical evidences have suggested that stem cells therapy has helped many spinal cord injury patients to regain back lost sensation to some extent and eliminate pain.

Stem cells are body’s proactive cells that have been primarily involved in natural repairing as well as regeneration of cells; which are lost due to routine wear and tear of the body. The approach of repairing spinal cord injuries with the allogenic applications of mesenchymal stem cells goes beyond any conventional techniques, including surgery to help victim regain back some or all the lost functions. Studies have as well confirmed effective symptomatic management of spinal cord injuries with respect to pain, movement, bladder control, etc. The treatment benefits that have been reported so far post stem cells treatment on spinal cord injury patients are:

  • Effective elimination of chronic pain and cramps
  • Better movement
  • Better control over bladder as well as bowel movement
  • Reduced muscular tension, delayed muscular atrophy due to increased muscular strength
  • Improved motor functions
  • Improved sexual functions

The treatment is being offered through umbilical cord tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells, which have been extracted and expanded under controlled conditions. Stringent procedures and protocols are maintained for their scaling up and enrichment, as per the regulatory guidelines. These stem cells are infused intra-thecaly via lumbar puncture. The stem cells are expected to repopulate at the damaged areas of the spinal cord, modulate the intrinsic immune system, exhibit a potent anti-inflammatory effect and create a better microenvironment for speedy regeneration of lost cells.

Multiple studies have been undertaken globally for the risk assessment and feasibility analysis of treating patients of spinal cord injury with stem cells therapy. It has been exhibited that stem cells treatments are accountable for 25-30% of the average post treatment performances related to sensory as well as motor outcomes. The data as well supports the fact that the degree of effective outcome is related to the administration of large number of viable stem cells; suggesting a plausible underlying biological effect. The meta-analysis further reveals some interesting facts, which should be noted that the effective treatment outcome is quite biased with the age, sex, severity of injury and type of injury; and thus demands further investigation.

Although research is still going about improvement in effective utilization of stem cells therapy; but current clinical findings indeed seem to confer better statistical improvements in terms of better restoration of sensory as well as motor functions and promising treatment outcomes in many spinal cord injury patients.

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Nerve Inflammation: Different Types

Neuritis or neuropathies can be referred to as an umbrella term for variety of degenerative conditions, pertaining to the structural or functional damage to Nerves. It commonly indicates inflammation of the nerve. It may be due to numerous causes including mechanical trauma, chemical injury, nutritional deficiencies, infections, inherited disorders, systemic diseases and autoimmune pathology. The condition has often proven to have noticeable impact on sensory and motor abilities of a person, like tingling, numbness, weakness in locomotary organs, paralysis, etc. Although various types of neuritis have been identified, optic neuritis and peripheral neuritis have observed to be the most commonly apparent.

The current write up has been intended to provide brief information of different types of neuritis and the possible pathogenesis.

Mononeuritis Multiplex

Mononeuritis Multiplex is generally associated with painful, asymmetric motor as well as sensory peripheral nerve atrophy which is asynchronous involving isolated damage to at least 2 separate nerve areas. Since multiples nerve sites are being affected in this particular degeneration; a person suffering with this generally experience, weakness, numbness and pain in different parts of the body.

Cranial Neuritis

Cranial neuritis which often represents as Bell’s palsy and generally linked up with autoimmune disorders like diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, etc.

Although exact cause has not been pinpointed, possible causes that have been marked so far can be tumour, meningitis, stroke, diabetes mellitus, mucormycosis, etc.

Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is the neural damage associated with the inflammation due to infection in the inner side of the ear; connecting the nerves to the brain. The abnormality is diagnosed as the primary cause of dizziness and/or vertigo as a result of viral infection and less commonly bacterial, creating imbalance between the two sides of an affected ear. Other symptoms include loss of balance, and hearing.

Occipital Neuritis

Occipital neuritis or occipital neuralgia is a common condition affecting nerve running from the top of the spinal cord through the scalp. In this, occipital nerves are evidently observed to be inflamed or possibly injured as a result of accident, trauma, muscle stiffness and/or autoimmunity. Some of the medical conditions can as well be linked to the disorders such as osteoarthritis, gout, diabetes, etc. It typically causes at the base of the skull or back of the head.

Other than these important forms, mentioned above some of the less common forms, associated with neural degeneration can be noted as:

  • Lumbosacral Neuritis
  • Sensory Motor polyneuropathy
  • Ulnar Neuritis
  • Intercostal Neuritis

In the conventional medical practices, neuritis are being commonly delayed or halted in their progression, through administration of steroidal drugs. However, long term intake of steroids is associated with many side effects. On the contrary, some of the alternative therapies can have effective impact on regeneration and restoration of the affected nerves. Stem cells are such potential candidates which have been successfully isolated and infused back by medical experts to treat variety of neurodegenerative disorders, after identification of their inherent potential to have a marked anti-inflammatory response and to differentiate into various cells of different lineages.

The research is ongoing to explore different capabilities of stem cells and their possible applications in treating variety of degenerative illnesses, but with the current available data and treatment matrix; administration of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) to treat neural damage has proven to be the best possible option.