Dear Pain Matters blog readers,
It is worth adding more to Friday’s blog post dated 21 November 2014.
A QUESTION WHETHER STEM CELL TREATMENT COULD ALSO REDUCE NERVE PAIN IN SOME SPINAL CORD INJURY PATIENTS?
Many patients with spinal cord injury also suffer severe nerve pain. Could stem cell treatment for spinal cord injury (potentially) result in:
(1) enhanced motor and sensory function; and
(2) reduced nerve pain
in some patients?
A recent Review Paper suggested that stem cells may have the following 2 beneficial effects:
(1) regenerative effects that may enhance motor and sensory functions (eg in spinal cord injury patients); and
(2) decreased pro-inflammatory response that may lead to reduced nerve pain.
It is possible that a reduced pro-inflammatory response (consequently, reduced nerve pain) may be a prerequisite before the stem cells’ regenerative effects can take place. Thus, the mechanisms that underlie the stem cells’ beneficial effects on nerve pain may be different from those that underlie their regenerative effects (Franchi et al, 2014).
It would be useful to include spinal cord injury patients that also have spinal cord injury pain in upcoming stem cell trials.
If research can show that stem cell treatment can, at times, result in BOTH:
(1) enhanced motor/sensory function; as well as
(2) reduced nerve pain,
this would be a immense breakthrough for medical science.
MORE ON STEM CELLS IN THE OLFACTORY BULB
Stem cells are available in different parts of your body. Recently, it was shown that the olfactory bulb (in the upper nasal cavity, used in the sense of smell) can be a rich source of olfactory ensheathing cells and olfactory nerve fibroblasts.
Specifically, researchers reported that olfactory ensheathing cells and olfactory nerve fibroblasts were taken from the olfactory bulb, placed in a culture for 2 weeks, and subsequently transplanted into an injured spinal cord of a paralysed patient named Darek Fidyka, a 38-year old man who suffered paralysis from the chest down following a stabbing in 2010.
Given the amazing regenerative capacity of these olfactory bulb stem cells, ongoing research into the transplantation of these stem cells into injured or diseased body/brain regions is warranted.
One day, perhaps, the ‘miracle of stem cells’ may be a standard medical treatment option, and the transplantation of stem cells will be as normal as ‘planting seeds in a garden’.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Other questions arise. For example, can the regenerative stem cells from the olfactory bulb also be transplanted (via autologous stem cell transplant) into different parts of the body including spinal cord and brain?
If yes, could autologous stem cell transplant (using stem cells from one’s own olfactory bulb) be used one day to treat people with:
– Diabetes (Kuwabara & Asashima, 2012);
– Spinal cord injury; and/or
– Other neuronal diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Motor Neurone Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, and some Post-Stroke conditions (eg Locked-In-Syndrome)?
Research into non-embryonic sources of stem cells is warranted (Franchi et al, 2014). Permanent damage does not occur when stem cells are removed from the olfactory bulb (that is also relatively accessible via surgery).
The possibilities of stem cell research are endless.
I hope that stem cell research offers hope and inspiration to all people suffering from pain, limited mobility, and reduced sensory function.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
(1) Kuwabara, Asashima (Research Center for Stem Cell Engineering, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan)
Regenerative medicine using adult neural stem cells: the potential for diabetes therapy and other pharmaceutical applications; J Mol Cell Biol (2012):4(3):133-139.
(2) Olfactory Bulb Stem Cells And Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
27 October, 2004
(3) Franchi et al; Adult Stem Cell as New Advanced Therapy for Experimental Neuropathic Pain Treatment; BioMed Research International (2014); Article ID 470983, Pages 1-10 (10 pages).
(FOR READERS WHO WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT STEM CELLS IN THE OLFACTORY BULB….OTHERWISE JUST IGNORE THE FOLLOWING PAPERS)
(4) Pagano et al; Isolation and characterization of neural stem cells from the adult human olfactory bulb. Stem Cells. 2000;18(4):295-300.
(5) MacKay-Sim; Stem cells and their niche in the adult olfactory mucosa. Archives Italiennes de Biologie (2010):148:47-58.
(6) Moreno-Estellés et al; Symmetric expansion of neural stem cells from the adult olfactory bulb is driven by astrocytes via WNT7A. Stem Cells (Dec 2012);30(12):2796-2809.
(7) Gritti et al; Multipotent neural stem cells reside into the rostral extension and olfactory bulb of adult rodents. J Neurosci (Jan 2002);22(2):437-445.
(8) Liu & Martin; Olfactory bulb core is a rich source of neural progenitor and stem cells in adult rodent and human. J Comp Neurol (May 2003);459(4):368-91.