White blood cells restore spinal cords in mice

Israeli researcher Michal Schwartz
of the Weitzmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, recently reported
a new finding that might lead to better treatments for human beings with
|spinal cord| injuries.

In his experiments, Schwartz took
rats whose spinal cords had been severed so their hind legs were paralyzed.
She then treated the rats with their own white blood cells. Many of the
animals who received this treatment experienced a restoration of some
movement in their hind legs. The results of the experiment were reported
in the July issue of Natural Medicine.

Schwartz said there is “a
long way to go to see whether it works in humans,” but her finding is
the latest in a series of recent advances in understanding spinal cord
injuries and one of several recent treatment regimens that have shown
promise in laboratory animals.

In fact, Schwartz believes her discovery
might explain why spinal cord cells, unlike other nerve cells, don’t
usually regenerate after being damaged. In other injuries, macrophages
(white blood cells) would race to the site of the damage to help repair
it. In spinal cord injuries, however, this doesn’t happen.


“White blood cells regenerate severed spines in rats,” Malcolm Ritter,
Associated Press, June 29, 1998.

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