Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury

What is Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the spinal cord becomes damaged, most commonly, when motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, or sporting accidents fracture vertebrae and crush or transect the spinal cord.

Damage to the spinal cord usually results in impairments or loss of muscle movement, muscle control, sensation and body system control.

Presently, post-accident care for spinal cord injury patients focuses on extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation therapies; teaching the injured person how to cope with their disability.

A number of published papers and case studies support the feasibility of treating spinal cord injury with allogeneic human umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells.

Feasibility of combination allogeneic stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury: a case report co-authored by Stem Cell Institute Founder Neil H. Riordan PA, PhD references many of them. Published improvements include improved ASIA scores, improved bladder and/or bowel function, recovered sexual function, and increased muscle control.

Through administration of umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, we have observed improvements in spinal cord injury patients treated at our facilities.

The adult stem cells used to treat spinal cord injuries at the Stem Cell Institute come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). Umbilical cords are donated by mothers after normal, healthy births.

All donated umbilical cords are screened for viruses and bacteria to International Blood Bank Standards.

Only a small percentage of donated umbilical cords pass our rigorous screening process.

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.
  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.
  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.
  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.
  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.
  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were isolated and grown in our laboratory in Panama to create master cell banks are currently being used in the United States under US FDA regulation.

These cells serve as the starting material for cellular products used in MSC clinical trials for two Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy patients under US FDA’s designation of Investigational New Drug (IND) for single patient compassionate use. (IND 16026 DMD Single Patient).

The body’s immune system is unable to recognize umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells as foreign and therefore they are not rejected. HUCT stem cells have been administered thousands of times at the Stem Cell Institute and there has never been a single instance rejection (graft vs. host disease).  As a matter of fact, allogeneic (not the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells are approved to treat graft vs. host disease in Canada and New Zealand.

Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells also proliferate/differentiate more efficiently than “older” cells, such as those found in the fat and therefore, they are considered to be more “potent”.

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