About Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
The loss of sensation and motor function resulting from spinal cord injury is often associated with neuron loss and “demyelination,” where a once-healthy myelin sheath is damaged or destroyed. Myelin is a substance that surrounds and insulates axons (nerve cells’ communications fibers) and is critical to healthy functioning of the central nervous system. Without this protective myelin coating, axons are unable to properly transmit nerve impulses from the brain to areas below the level of injury, leading to the loss of neurological function.
In myelination disorders, the deficient myelin sheath does not properly insulate the axon, so transmission of nerve impulses is impeded.
The StemCells Approach: Myelin Production to Protect Nerve Cells
When StemCells human neural stem cells are transplanted in animals, they migrate to the sites where myelin is deficient. They differentiate into oligodendrocytes, which form healthy myelin sheaths to protect axons, helping nerve cells communicate with each other. They do this by developing myelin appendages that wrap around the axons of nearby neurons to provide the insulation (myelin) needed for proper transmission of nerve impulses.