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Spinal cord injury victims may benefit from stem cell research

People in West Virginia who have suffered injuries to their spinal cords can suffer from a wide range of complications, along with numbness and paralysis. Some of these issues are due to the lack of GABA, a neurotransmitter, in the spinal cord that has been injured. However, new research shows that embryonic stem cells from humans may be able to be transformed into a different type of cell that produces GABA. This might help to alleviate bladder dysfunction and chronic pain, two major side effects of spinal cord injury.

In a recent study, researchers placed neural precursor cells into mice's spinal cords two weeks after the spinal cords had been injured. There, the precursor cells had the ability to differentiate into neuron subtypes that produce GABA and develop synaptic connections. Instead of putting the cells into the injury site, researchers injected them in the spine's lumbosacral region -- a region where spinal cord circuits are usually overactive. This over-activity is part of the cause of bladder dysfunction and neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury patients.

Six months later, the mice's sensitivities to pain were dramatically reduced. Right now, neuropathic pain treatments usually involve medications, such as opioids and particular antidepressants. In addition, anticholinergics are drugs that are used to treat bladder dysfunction. However, both drugs have major side effects. Researchers hope that the new research may help injury victims to address these problems without the need for these drugs.

Spinal cord injury can easily happen if a person in West Virginia is a car accident victim or fall victim due to dangerous property conditions at a business, for example. In these situations, the victim has the right to file a personal injury claim against the party whose negligence caused the accident, seeking damages. Monetary compensation in a case that is fought successfully may help him or her to cover medical costs and other injury-related losses.

Source: sciencedaily.com, "Human stem cells treat spinal cord injury side effects in mice", Oct. 3, 2016

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