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Summary: Researchers have successfully used stem cell therapy to regenerate neurons in damaged areas of zebra fish spinal cords. The treatment helped to restore movement following SCI. The findings raise the possibility of developing new treatments for humans suffering paralysis as a result of spinal cord injury.
The research, presented at the International Society for Stem Cell Research conference in Melbourne this week, raises the possibility that these same stem cells could be triggered in human patients who have suffered paralysing damage to their nervous system. Dr Jan Kaslin from Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), used the zebra fish model of nerve regeneration. Zebrafish are small, tropical fish that are known as “master-regenerators” because they have the capacity to regenerate many tissues or organs following injury, and being see-through scientists can literally watch the regeneration within the living fish. Dr Kaslin and colleagues isolated a group of precursor cells and stem cells that very quickly colonise and regenerate the fish’s spinal cord when it is damaged. Using confocal and light sheet microscopy Dr Kaslin and colleagues were able to track and image the regeneration of living nerves in real time – allowing the first glimpse into how these precursor and stem cells move, behave and repair the spinal cord.