Today@UCI Home University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service
 
   Search Tips   
Friday, December 19, 2014 | Contact University Communications | UCI Home
Home
Calendar
Newsroom
• Zot!Wire
• Press Releases
• Tipsheets
• Experts
• UCI in the News
• Healthcare News
Special Reports & Spotlights
• Arts & Humanities
• Campus Life
• Education
• Environment & Energy
• Health & Medicine
• Science & Business
• Society & Culture
Quick Facts
• Economic Impact
• Distinctions
• Fact Sheets
• Statistics & Reports
Resources
• Publications
• Graphic Identity
• Style Guide
• Meet the Media
Chancellor's Site
Emergency Readiness
Home > News > Press Releases & Media Advisories > Press Release

UCI researchers use human embryonic stem cells to create new nerve insulation tissue that can aid spinal cord repair


Discovery shows stem cell-derived ‘insulation’ cells growing and functioning in a living system


Irvine, Calif, November 22, 2004

For the first time, researchers have used human embryonic stem cells to create new insulating tissue for nerve fibers in a live animal model – a finding that has potentially important implications for treatment of spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the UC Irvine Reeve-Irvine Research Center used human embryonic stem cells to create cells called oligodendrocytes, which are the building blocks of the myelin tissue that wraps around and insulates nerve fibers. This tissue is critical for maintenance of proper nerve signaling in the central nervous system, and, when it is stripped away through injury or disease, sensory and motor deficiencies and, in some cases, paralysis result.

In this study, neurologist Hans Keirstead and colleagues at UCI and the Geron Corporation devised a novel technique that allows human embryonic stem cells to differentiate into high-purity, early-stage oligodendrocyte cells. The researchers then injected these cells into the spinal cords of mice genetically engineered to have no myelin tissue.

After transplantation into mice, the early-stage cells formed into full-grown oligodendrocyte cells and migrated to appropriate neuronal sites within the spinal cord. More importantly, the researchers discovered the oligodendrocyte cells forming patches of myelin’s basic protein, and they observed compact myelin tissue wrapping around neurons in the spinal cord. These studies demonstrated that the oligodendrocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells can function in a living system.

Results of this study are published online in the peer-reviewed journal Glia.

“These results are extremely exciting and show great promise,” Keirstead said. “What we plan to do next is see how these cells improve sensory and motor function, and hopefully it will lead to further tests with people who suffer from these debilitating illnesses and injuries.”

Gabriel I. Nistor and Minodora O. Totoiu from UCI collaborated with Nadia Haque and Melissa K. Carpenter of the Geron Corporation on the study, which was supported  by Geron, UC Discovery, Research for Cure and the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Geron provided the human embryonic stem cells used in this study.

In previous studies, Keirstead and colleagues have identified how the body’s immune system attacks and destroys myelin tissue during spinal cord injury or disease states. They’ve also shown that, when treated with antibodies to block immune system response, myelin is capable of regenerating, which ultimately restores sensory and motor activity.

The Reeve-Irvine Research Center was established to study how injuries and diseases traumatize the spinal cord and result in paralysis or other loss of neurologic function, with the goal of finding cures. It also facilitates the coordination and cooperation of scientists around the world seeking cures for paraplegia, quadriplegia and other diseases impacting neurological function. Named in honor of Christopher Reeve, the center is part of the UCI College of Medicine.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with approximately 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.


Related Links

Reeve-Irvine Research Center

Contact

Tom Vasich
(949) 824-6455
tmvasich@uci.edu

Archives

Nov. 2014
Oct. 2014
Sept. 2014
Aug. 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
Feb. 2014
Jan. 2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
UCI Home
A Service of University Communications © Copyright 2002-2009 UC Regents